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Sprit nA grants nf % Christian Jdigim. 


o/ "IVarefc tn Greece and Palestine," "The Martyrs," "Atala," tte. etc. x(^ 

JJefcr anb dLompUte translation from % 


Preface, Biographical Notice of the Anthor, and Critical and Explanatory Notee. 


, W. fttAJ, 
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by 

in the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the United States for the 
District of Maryland. 


IN 1798, while the author of this work was residing 
in London, exiled from France by the horrors of the 
Revolution, and gaining a subsistence by the produc 
tions of his pen, which were tinctured with the skep 
ticism and infidelity of the times, he was informed of 
the death of his venerable mother, whose last days 
had been embittered by the recollection of his errors, 
and who had left him, in her dying moments, a solemn 
admonition to retrace his steps. The thought of having 
saddened the old age of that tender and religious 
parent who had borne him in her womb, overwhelmed 
him with confusion ; the tears gushed from his eyes, 
and the Christian sentiments in which he had been 
educated returned under the impulses of a generous 
and affectionate heart: "I wept and I believed" But 
the trouble which harassed his mind did not entirely 
vanish, until he had formed the plan of redeeming his 
first publications by the consecration of his splendid 
abilities to the honor of religion. Such was the origin 
of the Genius of Christianity, in the composition of which 
he labored with "all the ardor of a son who was erect 
ing a mausoleum to his mother."* 

* Memoires (f Outre- Tombe, vol. i. 


When this work made its appearance, in 1802, in 
fidelity was the order of the day in France. That 
beautiful country, whose people had once held so pro 
minent a rank among the Catholic nations of Europe, 
presented but a vast scene of ruins, the fatal conse 
quences of that systematic war which impious sophists 
had waged against religion during the latter half of 
the eighteenth century. The Revolution had swept 
away in its desolating course all the landmarks of the 
ancient society. Churches and altars had been over 
thrown ; the priests of God had been massacred, or 
driven into exile ; asylums of virtue and learning had 
been profaned and laid waste ; every thing august and 
sacred had disappeared. In the political and social 
sphere the same terrific destruction was witnessed. 
After a succession of convulsions, which had over 
thrown the Bourbon dynasty, and during which the 
passions of men had rioted amid the wildest anarchy 
and the most savage acts of bloodshed, the chief au 
thority became vested in a consul whose mission was 
to re-establish social order, and whose efforts in that 
direction were gladly welcomed by the nation, grown 
weary and sick, as it were, of the dreadful calamities 
that had come upon them. It was an auspicious mo 
ment for the fearless champion of Christianity, to 
herald the claims of that religion whose doctrines con 
stitute the only safe guide of the governing and the 
governed. But, among a people who to a great extent 
had conceived a.profound antipathy to the theory and 
practice of religion, by the artful and persevering 
efforts of an infidel philosophy to render the Christian 
name an object of derision and contempt, a new 


method of argument was necessary to obtain even a 
hearing in the case, much more to bring back the 
popular mind to a due veneration for the Church and 
her teachings. It would have been useless, when the 
great principles of religious belief were disregarded, 
when the authority of ages was set at naught, to un 
dertake the vindication of Christianity by the exhi 
bition of those external evidences which demonstrate 
its divine origin. Men had become deluded with the 
idea that the Christian religion had been a serious ob 
stacle in the way of human progress; that, having 
been invented in a barbarous age, its dogmas were 
absurd and its ceremonies ridiculous; that it tended 
to enslave the mind, opposed the arts and sciences, 
and was in general hostile to the liberty of man and 
the advancement of civilization. It was necessary, 
therefore, in order to refute these errors, to exhibit 
the intrinsic excellence and beauty of the Christian 
religion, to show its analogy with the dictates of na 
tural reason, its admirable correspondence with the in 
stincts of the human heart, its ennobling influence 
upon literature and the arts, its beneficent effects upon 
society, its wonderful achievements for the civilization 
and happiness of nations, its infinite superiority over 
all other systems, in elevating the character, improving 
the condition, and answering the wants of man, under 
all the circumstances of life ; in a word, to show, ac 
cording to the design of our author, not that the Chris 
tian religion is excellent because it comes from G-od, hit that 
it comes from God because it is excellent. 

For this purpose, he passes in review the principal 


mysteries and tenets of Christianity, draws a compa 
rison between Christian and pagan literature, displays 
the advantages which painting, sculpture, and the 
other arts, have derived from religious inspiration, its 
accordance with the scenes of nature and the senti 
ments of the heart, describes the wonders of mis 
sionary enterprise, the extensive services of the mo 
nastic orders, and concludes with a general survey of 
the immense blessings conferred upon mankind by 
the Christian Church. In displaying this magnificent 
picture to the contemplation of the reader, the author 
employs all the resources of ancient and modern 
learning, the information derived from extensive 
travel and a profound study of human nature, and 
those ornaments of style which the loftiest poetry and 
the most glowing fancy can place at his command. 
In turn the philosopher, the historian, the traveller, 
and the poet, he adopts every means of promoting the 
great end in view, to enamor the heart of man with 
the charms of religion, and to prove that she is emi 
nently the source of all that is "lovely and of good re 
port," of all that is beautiful and sublime. Among all 
the works of Chateaubriand, none, perhaps, is so re 
markable as this for that combination of impressive 
eloquence, descriptive power, and pathetic sentiment, 
which imparts such a fascination to his style, and 
which caused Napoleon I. to observe, that it was " not 
the style of Racine, but of a prophet ; that nature had 
given him the sacred flame, and it breathed in all his 

The publication of such a work at such a time could 
riot but enlist against it a powerful opposition among 


the advocates of infidelity ; but its superior excellence 
and brilliant character obtained an easy triumph over 
the critics who had attempted to crush its influence. 
In two years it had passed through seven editions; 
and such was the popularity it acquired, that it was 
translated into the Italian, German, and Russian lan 
guages. In France, the friends of religion hailed it as 
the olive branch of peace and hope a messenger of 
heaven, sent forth to solace the general affliction, to 
heal the wounds of so many desolate hearts, after the 
frightful deluge of impiety which had laid waste that 
unfortunate country. On the other hand, the waver 
ing in faith, and even they who had been perverted by 
the sophistry of the times, were drawn to a profitable 
investigation of religion, by the new and irresistible 
charms that had been thrown around it. It cannot be 
denied that the Genius of Christianity exerted a most 
powerful and beneficial influence in Europe for the 
good of religion and the improvement of literature. 
The eloquent Balmes has well said : " The mysterious 
hand which governs the universe seems to hold in re 
serve, for every great crisis of society, an extraordinary 

man Atheism was bathing France in a sea of 

tears and blood. An unknown man silently traverses 
the ocean, .... returns to his native soil." .... 
He finds there " the ruins and ashes of ancient temples 
devoured by the flames or destroyed by violence ; the 
remains of a multitude of innocent victims, buried in 
the graves which formerly afforded an asylum to per- 
secuted Christians. He observes, however, that some 
thing is in agitation : he sees that religion is about to 
redescend upon France, like consolation upon the un- 


fortunate, or the breath of life upon a corpse. From 
that moment he hears on all sides a concert of celestial 
harmony ; the inspirations of meditation and solitude 
revive and ferment in his great soul ; transported out 
of himself, and ravished into ecstasy, he sings with a 
tongue of fire the glories of religion, he reveals the 
delicacy and beauty of the relations between religion 
and nature, and in surpassing language he points out 
to astonished men the mysterious golden chain which 
connects the heavens and the earth. That man was 
Chateaubriand. * 

The eloquent work here referred to must, we may 
easily conceive, be productive of good in any age and 
in any country. Although the peculiar circumstances 
that prompted its execution and proved so favorable 
to its first success have passed away, the vast amount 
of useful information which it embodies will always 
be consulted with pleasure and advantage by the 
scholar and the general reader; while the "vesture of 
beauty and holiness" which it has thrown round the 
Church cannot fail to be extensively instrumental in 
awakening a respectful attention to her indisputable 
claims. One of the saddest evils of our age and 
country is the spirit of indifferentism which infects all 
classes of society; and the question, among a vast 
number, is not what system of Christianity is true, but 
whether it is worth their while to make any system 
the subject of their serious inquiry. Such minds, 
wholly absorbed by the considerations of this world, 
would recoil from a doctrinal or theological essay with 

* Protestantism and Catholicity Compared, $*c., p. 71. 


almost the same aversion as would be excited by the 
most nauseous medicine. But deck religious truth in 
the garb of fancy, attended by the muses, and dis 
pensing blessings on every side, and {he most apa 
thetic soul will be arrested by the beauteous spectacle, 
as the child is attracted and won by the maternal 
smile. Among unbelievers and sectarians of different 
complexions, who discard all mysteries, who consult 
only their reason and feelings as the source and rule 
of religious belief, who look upon Catholicism as 
something effete, and unsuited to the enlightenment of 
the age, this work will be read with the most bene 
ficial results. It will warm into something living, 
consistent, and intelligible, the cold and dreamy specu 
lations of the rationalist; it will indicate the grand 
fountain-head whence flow in all their fervor and effi 
ciency those noble sentiments which for the modern 
philosopher and philanthropist have but a theoretical 
existence. It will hold up to view the inexhaustible 
resources of Catholicism, in meeting all the exigencies 
of society, all the wants of man, and triumphantly 
vindicate her undoubted claims to superiority over all 
other systems in advancing the work of true civili 

It was to establish this truth that Balmes composed 
his splendid work on the Comparative Influence of Pro 
testantism and Catholicity, and Digby described the Ages 
of Faith, and the Compitum, or Meeting of the Ways. 
These productions are of a kindred class with the 
Genius of Christianity, and the former embraces to a 
certain extent the same range of subject, having in 
view to display the internal evidences of Catholicity, 


as derived from its beneficial influence upon European 
civilization. But Chateaubriand was the first to enter 
the field against the enemies of religion, clad in that 
effective armor which is peculiarly adapted to the cir 
cumstances of modern times. "Without pretending in 
the least to question the necessity or detract from the 
advantages of theological discussion, we are firmly 
convinced that the mode of argument adopted by our 
author is, in general, and independently of the prac 
tical character of the age in which we live, the tnost 
effectual means of obtaining for the Church that favor 
able consideration which will result in the recognition 
of her divine institution. "The foolish man hath said 
in his heart, there is no God."* The disorder of the 
heart, arising partly from passion, partly from preju 
dice, shuts out from the mind the light of truth. 
Hence, whoever wins the heart to an admiration of the 
salutary influences which that truth has exerted in 
every age for the happiness of man, will have gained 
an essential point, and will find little difficulty in con 
vincing the understanding, or securing a profitable 
attention to the grave expositions of the theologian 
and the controversialist. 

Such were the considerations that led to the present 
translation of the Genius of Christianity. The work 
was presented in an English dress for the first time in 
England; and the same edition, reprinted in this 
country in 1815, would have been republished now, if 
it had not been discovered that the translator had 
taken unwarrantable liberties with the original, omit- 

Psalm xiv. 1. 

P R E I A C B. 13 

ting innumerable passages and sometimes whole chap 
ters, excluding sentences and paragraphs of the highest 
importance, those particularly which gave to the au 
thor s argument its peculiar force in favor of Catholi 
cism. Such, in fact, was the number and nature of 
these omissions, that, with the introduction of occa 
sional notes, they detracted, in a great measure, from 
the author s purpose, and gave to a latitudinarian 
Christianity an undue eminence, which he never con 
templated. With these important exceptions, and 
various inaccuracies in rendering the text, the transla 
tion of Mr. Shoberl has considerable merit. In pre 
paring the present edition of the work, we have fur 
nished the entire matter of the original production, 
with the exception of two or three notes in the Ap 
pendix, which have been condensed, as being equally 
acceptable to the reader in that form. Nearly one 
hundred pages have been supplied which were never 
before presented to the public in English. In render 
ing the text, we have examined and compared different 
French editions ; but there is little variation between 
that of 1854 and its predecessors. Where the sense 
of the author appeared obscure or erroneous, we have 
introduced critical and explanatory notes. Those 
marked S and K have been retained from Mr. 
Shoberl s translation ; those marked T were prepared 
for this edition. In offering this translation to the 
public, we take pleasure in stating that we have made 
a free use of that to which we have alluded, especially 
in the latter portion of the work. We have also con 
sulted the translation by the Rev. E. O Donnel, which 
was issued in Paris in 1854. In that edition, however, 


nearly one-half of the original production has been 
omitted, and the order of the contents has been en 
tirely changed. 

In conclusion, we present this work to the public 
with the hope that it may render the name of its illus 
trious author more extensively known among us, and 
may awaken a more general interest in the study of 
that religion which, as Montesquieu observes, "while 
it seems only to have in view the felicity of the other 
life, constitutes the happiness of this." 


Pikesvillt, Md. April, 1856. 







CHAP. I. Introduction *3 

1L Of the Nature of Mysteries 51 

III. Of the Christian Mysteries The Trinity 53 

IV. Of the Redemption 59 

V. Of the Incarnation 66 

VI. Of the Sacraments Baptism and Peuance 67 

VII. Of the Holy Communion 71 

VIII. Confirmation, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. 75 

IX. The same subject continued Holy Orders 82 

X. Matrimony 85 

XL Extreme Unction 81 



CHAP. 1. Vices and Virtues according to Eeligion 93 

II. Of Faith 95 

III. Of Hope and Charity 97 

IV. Of the Moral Laws, or the Ten Commandments 99 



CHAP. I. The Superiority of the History of Moses to all other Cosmogonies 107 

II. The Fall of Man The Serpent Remarks on a Hebrew "Word... 110 

III Primitive Constitution of Man New proof of Original Sin 114 







CHAP. I. Chronology 1 

II. Logography and Historical Facts 1 

III. Astronomy 

IV. Continuation of the preceding subject Natural History The 

Deluge 133 

V. Youth and Old Age of the Earth 136 



CHAP. I. Object of this Book 133 

II. A General Survey of the Universe 139 

III. Organization of Animals and Plants 141 

IV. Instincts of Animals 145 

V. Song of Birds Made for Man Laws relative to the cries of 

Animals 147 

VL Nests of Birds 150 

VII. Migrations of Birds Aquatic Birds Their Habits Goodness 

of Providence 152 

VIII. Sea-Fowl In what manner serviceable to Man In ancient times 

Migrations of Birds served as a Calendar to the husbandman 156 

IX. The subject of Migrations concluded Quadrupeds 160 

X. Amphibious Animals and Reptiles 163 

XL Of Plants and their Migrations 188 

XII. Two Views of Nature 170 

XIII. Physical Man 174 

XIV. Love of our Native Country 177 



CHAP. I. Desire of Happlc ess in Man JS4 

II. Remorse and Conscience 187 

IIL There can be no Morality if there is no Future State Presump 
tion in favor of the Immortality of the Soul deduced from 

the Respect of Man for Tombs 190 

IV. Of certain Objections 191 

V. Danger and Inutility of Atheism 196 



VI. The conclusion of the Doctrines of Christianity State of Pu 
nishments and Rewards in a Future Life Elysium of the 

Ancients 2( 

VII. The Last Judgment 2I 

VIII. Happiness of the Righteous 2 7 




CHAP. I. The Poetic of Christianity is divided into Three Branches: 
Poetry, the Fine Arts, and Literature The Six Books of 

this Second Part treat in an especial manner of Poetry 210 

II. General Survey of the Poems in which the Marvellous of Chris 
tianity supplies the place of Mythology The Inferno of 

Dante The Jerusalem Delivered of Tasso 2 

ILL Paradise Lost 215 

IV. Of some French and Foreign Poems 2: 

V. TheHenriad 226 




CHA.P. I. Natural Characters 2! 

II. The Husband and Wife Ulysses and Penelope 2; 

III. The Husband and Wife continued Adam and Eve 236 

IV. The Father Priam 242 

V. Continuation of the Father Lusigmin 245 

VI. The Mother Andromache 247 

VII. The Son Gusman 250 

VIII. The Daughter Iphigenia and Zara 253 

IX. Social Characters The Priest 256 

X. Continuation of the Priest The Sibyl Jehoiada. Parallel be 
tween Virgil and Racine 257 

XI. The Warrior Definition of the Beautiful Ideal 262 

XII. The Warrior continued 266 

2* B 





The Passions. 


CHAP. I. Christianity has changed the Relations of the Passions by chang 
ing the Basis of Vice and Virtue 269 

II. Impassioned Love Dido 272 

III. Continuation of the preceding subject The Phaedra of Racine.. 275 

IV. Continuation of the preceding subject Julia d Etange Clemen 

tina 277 

V. Continuation of the preceding subject Eloisa 280 

VI. Rural Love The Cyclop and Galatea of Theocritus 285 

VII. Continuation of the preceding subject Paul and Virginia 287 

VIII. The Christian Religion itself considered as a Passion 291 

IX. Of the Unsettled State of the Passions ,.. 2U6 



CHAP. I. Mythology diminished the Grandeur of Nature The Ancients 

had no Descriptive Poetry properly so called 299 

II. Of Allegory 303 

III. Historical part of Descriptive Poetry among the Moderns 305 

IV. Have the Divinities of Paganism, in a poetical point of view, the 

superiority over the Christian Divinities? : 309 

V. Character of the True God 312 

VI. Of the Spirits of Darkness 314 

VII. Of the Saints " m 316 

VIII. Of the Angels . . 319 

IX. Application of the Principles established in the preceding chap 
tersCharacter of Satan 3 2] 

X. Poetical Machinery Venus in the woods of Carthage Raphael 

in the bowers of Eden 3 24 

XL Dream of ^Eneas Dream of Athalie 326 

XII. Poetical Machinery continued Journeys of Homer s gods 

Satan s expedition in quest of the New Creation 330 

XIII. The Christian Hell 335 

XIV. Parallel between Hell and Tartarus Entrance of Avernus 

Dante s gate of Hell Dido Francisca d Arimino Tor 
ments of the damned 334 

XV. Purgatory 3 ->o 

XVI. Paradise 



CHAP. I. Of the Scriptures and their Excellence 

II. Of the three principal styles of Scripture .............................. 345 

III. Parallel between the Bible and Homer Terms of Comparison... 352 

IV. Continuation of the Parallel betweea the Bible and Homer- 

Examples ................................................................. 358 




CHAP. L Music Of the Influence of Christianity upon Music 370 

II. TUe Gregorian fhant 3 ^2 

Til. Historical Painting among the Moderns . 375 

IV. Of the Subjects of Pictures 378 

V. Sculpture 3 

VI. Architecture Hotel des Invalides 3! 

VII. Versailles 3! 

VIII. Gothic Churches 384 



CHAP. I. Astronomy and Mathematics 2 

II. Chemistry and Natural History 39fl 

III. Christian Philosophers Metaphysicians 404 

IV. Christian Philosophers continued Political Writers 407 

V. Moralists La Bruyere 408 

VI. Moralists continued Pascal 411 





CHAP. I. Of Christianity as it relates to the Manner of Writing History.. 417 
II. Of the General Causes which have prevented Modern Writers 
from succeeding in History First Cause, the Beauties of the 
Ancient Subjects. 419 

III. Continuation of the preceding Second Cause,the Ancients have 

exhausted all the Historical styles, except the Christian style 422 

IV. Of the reasons why the French have no Historical Works, but 

only Memoirs 425 

V. Excellence of Modern History ^ 

VI. Voltaire considered as an Historian 4 

VII. Philip de Commines and Rollin 4: 

VIII. Bossuet considered as an Historian 433 



CHAP. I. Of Christianity as it relates to Eloquence 437 

II. Christian Orators Fathers of the Church 439 

III. Massiilon 445 

IV. Bossuet as an Orator r. 448 

V. Infidelity the Principal Cause of tho decline of Taste and tho 

degeneracy of Genius 453 



CHAP. I. Division of the Harmonies 459 

II. Physical Harmonies 459 

III. Of Ruins in General Ruins are of two kinds 466 

IV. Picturesque Effect of Ruins Ruins of Palmyra, Egypt, Ac 469 

V. Ruins of Christian Monuments 471 

VI. Moral Harmonies Popular Devotions 473 






CHAP. I. Of Bells 479 

II. Costume of the Clergy and Ornaments of the Church 481 

III. Of Singing and Prayer 483 

IV. Solemnities of the Church Sunday 489 

V. Explanation of the Mass 491 

VI. Ceremonies and Prayers of the Mass 493 

VII. Solemnity of Corpus Christi 496 

VIII. The Rogation-Days 498 

IX. Of certain Christian Festivals Epiphany Christmas 500 

X. Funerals Funerals of the Great 503 

XL Funeral of the Soldier, the Rich, <fcc 505 

XII. Of the Funeral-Service 507 



CHAP. I. Ancient Tombs The Egyptians 511 

II. The Greeks and Romans 512 

III. Modern Tombs China and Turkey 513 

IV. Caledonia or Ancient Scotland 514 

V. Otaheite 514 

VI. Christian Tombs 516 

VII. Country Churchyards 518 

VIII. Tombs in Churches 520 

IX. St. Dennis 522 



CHAP. I. Of Jesus Christ and his Life 526 

II. Secular Clergy Hierarchy 531 

III. Regular Clergy Origin of the Monastic Life 540 

IV. The Monastic Constitutions 544 

V. Manners and Life of the Religious Coptic Monks, Maronites,<fcc. 548 

VI. The subject continued Trappists Carthusians Sisters of St. 
Clare Fathers of Redemption Missionaries Ladies of 
Charity, &c 55] 




CHAP. I. General Survey of the Missions ................................................ 557 

II. Missions of the Levmt .................................... 553 

III. Missions of China.. ............................................... 5 gg 

IV. Missions of Paraguay Conversion of the Savages ................. .. 571 

V. Missions of Paraguay, continued Christian Republic Happi 

ness of the Indians .......................................... 57*, 

VI. Missions of Guiana ....................................... 

VII. Missions of the Antilles .................................... .... 3 g 5 

VIII. Missions of New France ........................................ 

IX. Conclusion of the Missions ............................... 




I. Knights of Malta 600 

II. The Teutonic Order .-..1"1ZZ3IZ1 .. 604 

III. The Knights of Calatrava and St. Jago-of-the- Sword in Spain.. 605 
IV. Life and Manners of the Knights gyg 



CHAP. I. Immensity of the Benefits conferred by Christianity 619 

II. Hospitals ..."...".! 6*0 

III. Hotel-Dieu Gray Sisters .. .......... 626 

IV. Foundling Hospitals Ladies of Charity Acts of Beneficence.. 630 
V. Education Schools Colleges Universities Benedictines and 

Jesuits g^2 

VI. Popes and Court of Rome Modern Discoveries r> 

VII. Agriculture " g^ 

VIII. Towns and Villages Bridges High-Roads ..rZ..... ............ 647 

IX. Arts, Manufactures, Commerce g=i 

X. Civil and Criminal Laws ... 55^ 

XL Politics and Government 

XII. General Recapitulation 

XIII. What the Present State of Society would be had not Chris 
tianity appeared in the World Conjectures Conclusion 668 






RENE FRANCIS AUGUSTUS, Viscount de Chateau 
briand, was born at Saint-Malo, in France, on the 
4th of September, 1768. His family, on the paternal 
side, one of the most ancient in Brittany, descended 
in a direct line, by the barons of Chateaubriand, from 
Thierri, grandson of Alain III., who was the sovereign 
of the Armorican peninsula. Having commenced his 
classical studies at the college of Dol, he continued 
them at Rennes, where he had Moreau for a rival, 
and completed them at Dinan in the company of 
Broussais. Of a proud disposition, and sensitive to a 
reprimand, young Chateaubriand distinguished him 
self by a very precocious intellect and an extraor 
dinary memory. His father, having destined him for 
the naval profession, sent him to Brest for the purpose 
of passing an examination ; but having remained 
some time without receiving his commission, he re 
turned to Combourg, and manifested some inclination 
for the ecclesiastical state. Diverted, however, from 
this project by the reading of pernicious books, he 

* Compiled chiefly from an article in Feller s Dictionnaire Historique. 



exchanged his sentiments of piety for those of infi 
delity, and in his solitary situation, with the passions 
for his guides, he became the sport of the most ex 
travagant fancies. Weary of life, he had even to 
struggle against the temptation of committing suicide ; 
but he was relieved from these sombre thoughts by 
the influence of his eldest brother, the Count of Oom- 
bourg, who obtained for him a lieutenancy in the regi 
ment of Navarre. After the death of his father, in 
1786, he left his military post at Cambrai, to look after 
his inheritance, and settled with his family at Paris. 
Through the means of his brother, who had married 
Mademoiselle de Rosambo, grand-daughter of Males- 
herbes, he was introduced into society and presented 
at court, which obtained for him at once the rank of a 
captain of cavalry. It was designed to place him in 
the order of Malta ; but Chateaubriand now began to 
evince his literary predilections. He cultivated the 
society of Ginguene, Lebrun, Champfort, Delisle de 
Salles, and was much gratified in having been per 
mitted, through them, to publish in the Almanack des 
Muses a poem which he had composed in the forest 
of Combourg. In 1789 he attended the session of the 
States of Brittany, and took the sword in order to 
repulse the mob that besieged the hall of assembly. 
On his return to Paris, after the opening of the States- 
general, he witnessed the first scenes of the revolu 
tion, and in 1790 he quit the service on the occasion 
of a revolt that had taken place in the regiment of 
Navarre. Alarmed by the popular excesses, and hav 
ing a great desire to travel, he embarked in January, 
1791, for the United States of America. He hoped, 


with the advice and support of Malesherbes, to dis 
cover a north-west passage to the Polar Sea, which 
Hearn had already descried in 1772. A few days after 
his arrival at Baltimore, he proceeded to Philadelphia, 
and having a letter of introduction to General Wash 
ington from Colonel Armand, (Marquis de la Rouerie,) 
who had served in the war of American Independence, 
he lost no time in calling on the President. Washing 
ton received him with great kindness and with his 
usual simplicity of manners. On the following day, 
Chateaubriand had the honor of dining with the Pre 
sident, whom he never saw afterward, hut whose cha 
racter left an indelible impression upon his mind. 
"There is a virtue," he says, "in the look of a great 
man."* On leaving Philadelphia, he visited ISTew 
York, Boston, and the other principal cities of the 
Union, where he was surprised to find in the manners 
of the people the cast of modern times, instead of that 
ancient character which he had pictured to himself. 
From the haunts of civilized life he turned to those 
wild regions which were then chiefly inhabited by the 
untutored savage, and as he travelled from forest to 
forest, from tribe to tribe, his poetical mind feasted 
upon the grandeur and beauty of that virginal nature 
which presented itself to his contemplation. At the 
falls of Niagara he was twice in the most imminent 
danger of losing his life, by his enthusiastic desire to 
enjoy the most impressive view of the wonderful 

While thus setting to profit his opportunities of ob- 

* Mfinioirex d* Oiifre-Tomlie. 


servation in the new world, Chateaubriand learned 
from the public prints the flight and capture jf Louis 
XVI., and the progress of the French emigration. 
He at once resolved upon returning to his native 
country. After a narrow escape from shipwreck, he 
arrived at Havre in the beginning of 1792, whence he 
proceeded to St. Malo, where he had the happiness of 
again embracing his mother. Here also he formed a 
matrimonial alliance with Mademoiselle de Lavigne, a 
lady of distinction. A few months after, in company 
with his brother, he set out for Germany with a view 
to join the army of French nobles who had rallied in 
defence of their country. At the siege of Thionville, 
his life was saved by the manuscript of Atala, a literary 
production which he carried about him, and which 
turned a shot from the enemy. He was, however, 
severely wounded in the thigh on the same occasion, 
and, to add to his misfortunes, he was attacked with 
the small-pox. In this suffering condition he under 
took a journey of six hundred miles on foot, and was 
more than once reduced to the very verge of the grave 
by the pressure of disease and the extraordinary priva 
tions he was compelled to undergo. One evening he 
stretched himself to rest in a ditch, from which he 
never expected to rise. In this situation he was dis 
covered by a party attached to the Prince of Ligno, 
who threw him into a wagon and carried him to the 
walls of Namur. As he made his way through that 
city, crawling on his knees and hands, he excited the 
compassion of some good women of the place, who 
afforded him what assistance they could. Having at 
length reached Brussels, he was there recognised by 


his brother, who happened to meet him, and irom 
whom he received every aid and attention. Though 
far from having recovered his strength, he left this 
place for Ostend, where he embarked in a fisherman s 
boat for the Isle of Jersey. Here he met with a por 
tion of his family who had emigrated from France, 
and among whom he received the attentions which his 
suffering condition demanded. He soon after repaired 
to London, where he lived forborne time in a state of 
poverty. Too haughty to apply for assistance to the 
British government, he relied altogether upon his own 
efforts for the means of subsistence. He spent the 
day in translating, and the night in composing his 
Essay 011 Eevolutions. But this incessant labor soon 
undermined his health, and there being moreover 
little to do in the way of translating, the unfortunate 
exile experienced for some days the cravings of hun 
ger. Happily, at this juncture, his services were re 
quested by a body of learned men who, under the direc 
tion of the pastor of Beccles, were preparing a history 
of the county of Suffolk. His part of the labor con 
sisted in explaining some French manuscripts of the 
twelfth century, the knowledge of which was neces 
sary to the authors of the enterprise. 

On his return to London, Chateaubriand completed 
his Essai sur les Revolutions, which was published in 
1797. This work produced quite a sensation, won for 
him the commendations and sympathy of the French 
nobility then in England, and placed him in relation 
with Montlosier, Delille and Fontanes. He was sorely 
tried, however, by the afflictions of his family. He 
had received the distressing intelligence that his bro- 


t;her and sister-in-law, with his friend Malesherbes, 
bad been guillotined by the revolutionary harpies, 
and that his wife and sister had been imprsoned at 
Rennes, and his aged mother at Paris. This pious 
lady, after having suffered a long confinement, died in 
1798, with a prayer on her lips for the conversion of 
her son. Young Chateaubriand was not insensible to 
this prayer of his venerated parent. "She charged 
one of my sisters," he writes, u to recall me to a sense 
of that religion in which I had been educated, and my 
sister made known to me her wish. When the letter 
reached me beyond the water, my sister also had de 
parted this life, having succumbed under the effects of 
her imprisonment. Those two voices coming up from 
the grave, and that death which had now become the 
interpreter of death, struck me with peculiar force. I 
became a Christian. I did not yield to any great su 
pernatural light : my conviction came from the heart. 
I wept, and I believed." His ideas having thus under 
gone a serious change, he resolved to consecrate to 
religion the pen which had given expression to the 
skepticism of the times, and he planned at once the 
immortal work, Lc Genie du Christianisme. 

As soon as Buonaparte had been appointed First 
Consul, Chateaubriand returned to France under an 
assumed name, associated himself with Fontanes in 
the editorship of the Mercure, and in 1801 published 
his Atala. This romance, attacked by some, but en 
thusiastically received by the greater number, was 
eminently successful, and added to the circle of the 
author s friends many illustrious names. Madame 
Bacciochi and Lucien Buonaparte became his protec- 


tors, while he was brought into intercourse with Jou- 
bert, de Bonald, La Harpe, Chenedolle, Mesdames 
Recamier and de Beaumont. His design, in the pub 
lication of Atala, was to introduce himself to the 
public, and to prepare the way for the Genie du Chris- 
tianisme, which appeared in 1802. ~No sooner was it 
issued from the press, than the disciples of Voltaire 
stamped it as the offspring of superstition, and pamph 
leteers and journalists united in visiting the author 
and his work with proud contempt ; but the friends of 
religion and of poetry applauded the intentions and 
admired the talents of the writer. 

Buonaparte, who was at this time busy with the con 
cordat, was desirous of seeing the man who so ably 
seconded his views ; and, with the hope of attaching 
him to his fortune, appointed him first secretary of 
Cardinal Fesch, then ambassador to the Court of 
Rome. When the new diplomatist was presented to 
Pius VII., this .venerable pontiff was reading the Genie 
du Christianisme. The honors of the French embassy 
had no great attractions for our author. Averse to 
being an instrument of the tortuous policy which it 
began to display, he resigned his post and returned to 
Paris. Napoleon, sensible of his eminent abilities, 
sought rather to conquer than to crush his independ 
ent spirit, and appointed him minister plenipotentiary 
to the Yalais. He received this commission the day 
before the Duke d Enghien, who had been seized on 
foreign territory, in contempt of the law of nations, 
was shot in the ditch of Vincennes. That very even 
ing, while fear or astonishment still pervaded the 
minds of all, Chateaubriand sent in his resignation. 


Napoleon could not but feel the censure implied in 
this bold protestation, which was the more meritorious 
as it was the only expression of fearless opposition to 
his prescriptive measure. He did not, however, betray 
his displeasure, nor did he disturb the courageous 
writer in whom he began to detect an enemy ; on the 
contrary, in order to draw him into his service, he 
made him every offer that could flatter his interest or 
ambition. The refusal of Chateaubriand to accept any 
post under the consular regime made him obnoxious 
to Napoleon, who gratified his resentment by crippling 
the literary resources of his political adversary. 

Under these circumstances, he paid a visit to Ma 
dame de Stael, who had become his friend by a com 
munity of sentiment and misfortune, and who was 
living in exile at Coppet. The following year 
1806 he executed his design of a pilgrimage to 
the Holy Land. Revisiting Italy, he embarked for 
Greece, spent some time among the ruins of Sparta 
and the monuments of Athens, passed over to Smyrna, 
thence to the island of Cyprus, and at length 
reached Jerusalem. Here, having venerated the relics 
of the noble crusaders, and especially that tomb 
"which alone will have nothing to send forth at the 
end of time," he sailed for Egypt, explored the fields 
of Carthage, passed over to Spain, and amid the ruins 
of the Alhambra wrote Le dernier des Abeneerages. On 
his return to France, in May, 1807, he published in the 
Mercure, which partly belonged to him, an article 
which greatly incensed the government against him. 
The emperor -spoke of having him executed on the 
steps of the Tuileries, but, after having issued the 


order to arrest him, he was satisfied with depriving 
him of his interest in the Mercury. Chateaubriand 
now retired to his possessions near Aulnay, where he 
wrote his Itimraire, Molse, and Les Martyrs. When 
the first-mentioned work was about to appear, in 1811, 
the author was notified by the government that the 
publication would not be permitted, unless he would 
introduce into its pages a eulogy of the emperor. 
Chateaubriand refused to submit to such a condition ; 
but having been informed that his publisher would 
suffer materially by the suppression of the work, he 
was induced by this consideration, to do, in some 
measure, what neither fear nor personal interest could 
extort from him. In complying with the requisition 
of the authorities, he alluded in truthful language to 
the exploits of the French armies, and to the fame of 
their general who had so often led them on to victory; 
but he carefully abstained from signalizing the acts of 
a government whose policy was so much at variance 
with the principles which he professed. 

Buonaparte had still some hope of gaining over the 
independent and fearless writer. When a vacancy 
had occurred in the French Academy by the death of 
Chenier, the situation was offered to Chateaubriand, 
who was also selected by the emperor for the general 
superintendence of the imperial libraries, with a salary 
equal to that of a first-class embassy. Custom, how 
ever, required that the member-elect should pronounce 
the eulogy of his predecessor ; but in this instance the 
independence of Chateaubriand gave sufficient reason 
to think that, instead of heralding the merit of Che 
nier, who had participated in the judicial murder of 


Louih XVI., he would denounce in unmeasured terms 
the crimes of the French Revolution. His inaugural 
address having been submitted, according to custom, 
to a committee of inspection, they decided that it 
could not be delivered by the author. The emperor, 
moreover-, having obtained some knowledge of its con 
tents, which formed an eloquent protest against the 
revolutionary doctrines and the despotic tendencies 
of the existing government, he was exasperated against 
the writer, and in his excitement he paced his room 
to and fro, striking his forehead, and exclaiming 
"Am I, then, nothing more than a usurper ? Ah, poor 
France! how much do you still need an instructor!" 
The admission of Chateaubriand to the Academy was 
indefinitely postponed. 

But the star of Buonaparte had now begun to wane. 
The allied armies having entered France, Chateau 
briand openly declared himself in favor of the ancient 
dynasty. His sentiments were unequivocally expressed 
in a pamphlet, which he published in 1814, under the 
title of Buonaparte et les Bourbons, and which Louis 
XVIII. acknowledged t> have been worth to him an 
army. Upon the restoration of this monarch to the 
throne, Chateaubriand was appointed ambassador to 
Sweden ; but he had not yet taken his departure, when 
it was announced that Buonaparte had again appeared 
on the soil of France. Our author advised the king to 
await his rival in Paris ; but this suggestion was not 
followed. Louis XVHI. proceeded to Gand, where 
Chateaubriand was a member of his council, in the 
capacity of Minister of the Interior, and drew up an 
able report on the condition of France, which was 


considered as a political manifesto. After the second 
restoration of the Bourbons, he declined a portfolio in 
connection with Fouch.6 and Talleyrand. Called to a 
seat in the House of Peers, he attracted considerable 
attention by some of his speeches. Not less a friend 
of the Bourbons than of the liberties guaranteed by 
the charter, he endeavored to conciliate the rights of 
the throne with those of the nation ; and he beheld 
with indignation men who had been too prominent 
during the revolutionary period, admitted to the royal 
councils and to various offices of the administration. 
Under the influence of these sentiments he published, 
in 1816, a pamphlet entitled La Monarchic selon la 
Charte, which was an able and popular defence of con 
stitutional government ; but by the order of de Gazes, 
president of the council, the work was suppressed, and 
its author, although acquitted before the tribunals, 
was no longer numbered among the ministers of state. 
Deprived of his station and of his income, Chateau 
briand was compelled to dispose of his library as a 
means .of subsistence. At the same time, he esta 
blished the Qmservatew, a periodical opposed to the 
Minerve, the ministerial organ, and, in conjunction 
with the Duo de Montmorency and others, he carried 
on a vigorous war against the favorite of the crown. 
The cabinet of de Cazes could not withstand such an 
antagonist ; the daily assaults of the Conservateur made 
it waver, and the assassination of the Duke of Berry 
completed its downfall. On the accession of M. de 
Villele to power, Chateaubriand accepted the mission 
to Berlin. While he occupied this post, he won the 
attachment of the royal family, the confidence of the 


Prussian ministers, and the intimate friendship of the 
Duchess of Cumberland. In 1822, he succeeded M. 
de Gazes as the representative of France at the court 
of St. James, and soon afterward crossed the Alps as a 
delegate to the Congress of Verona. Having distin 
guished himself in this assembly by eloquently plead 
ing the cause of Greece, and defending the interests 
of his own country in relation to the Spanish war, he 
returned to France and became Minister of Foreign 
Affairs. While he held this station, he succeeded in 
effecting the intervention of his government in behalf 
of Ferdinand VII., notwithstanding the opposition of 
M. de Villele. He could not, however, maintain his 
position long, with the antipathies of the king and the 
jealousy of his prime minister against him. He ac 
cordingly retired from the cabinet in 1824, and re- 
entered the ranks of the liberal opposition, of which 
he soon became the leader. The contributions of his 
pen to the columns of the Journal des Debate allowed 
not a moment s truce to the ministry. He assailed all 
the measures of the cabinet; the reduction of rents, 
the rights of primogeniture, the law of sacrilege, the 
dissolution of the national guard, all were denounced 
by him with a vigor and constancy which accom 
plished the fall of M. de Villele. 

Such was the state of things when Louis XVHL 
was summoned from life; and Chateaubriand, care 
fully distinguishing the cause of the dynasty from that 
of its micisters, who, according to him, were unworthy 
of their position, published a pamphlet entitled Le roi 
est mort, vive le roi! which was a new proof of his de- 
votedness to the Bourbons. After the inauguration 


of Charles X. and the formation of the Martignac cabi 
net, he accepted a mission to Rome, after having de 
clined the offer of a ministerial position. Upon the 
accession, however, of Prince Polignac to the office of 
Foreign Affairs, he immediately sent in his resigna 
tion, and used his influence against the administration. 
The events which soon followed justified his political 
views. The fatal ordinances of the government, in 
July, 1830, against the liberty of the press and the 
right of suffrage, precipitated a revolution, which re 
sulted in the exile of the elder branch of the Bourbons. 
In this crisis, Chateaubriand made an eloquent protest, 
in the House of Peers, against the change of dynasty, 
and advocated with all his ability the recognition of 
the Duke of Bordeaux and the appointment of a re 
gent during his minority ; but his efforts were fruit 
less, and the Duke of Orleans rose to power, under the 
name of Louis Philippe. 

Unwilling to pledge himself to this new state of 
things, he relinquished his dignity of peer of the realm, 
with his public honors and pensions, and retired poor 
into private life. The following year, however, he was 
roused from his political slumbers, and he published a 
pamphlet on the Nouvelle Restauration, and, in 1832, a 
Memoire sur la Captivite de Madame la Dachesse de Berry, 
whom he had visited in her prison ; and in 1833 appeared 
another work, entitled Conclusions. This last produc 
tion was seized by the government, and the author 
was arraigned before the tribunals, but was acquitted 
by the ji ry. After a visit to Italy and the south of 
France, Chateaubriand paid his respects to the family 
of Charles X., at Prague. On his return to Paris, he 


took no part ii public affairs, and left liis domestic 
privacy only to visit the Abbaye-aux-Bois, where Ma 
dame Recamier assembled in her mansion the flower 
of the old French society. During the remainder of 
his life, he was occupied in the study of English litera 
ture, in writing the Life of the Abbe de Ranee, and pre 
paring his Memoires d Outre- Tombe. The political revo 
lution of February, 1848, which hurled Louis Philippe 
from the throne, did not surprise him, because he had 
predicted it in 1830. Drawing near to his end when 
the insurrection of June broke forth at Paris, he spoke 
with admiration of the heroic death of the archbishop, 
and, having received the last rites of religion with 
great sentiments of piety, he expired on the 4th of 
July, 1848. His remains were conveyed to St. Malo, 
his native city, and, in compliance with his own re 
quest, were deposited in a tomb which the civil autho 
rity had prepared for him under a rock projecting into 
the sea. M. Ampere, in the name of the French 
Academy, delivered an address on the spot, and the 
Duke de Koailles, who succeeded him in that illus 
trious society, pronounced his eulogy at a public 
session held on the 6th of December, 1849. 

Chateaubriand had rather a haughty bearing, and 
spoke little. He was fond of praise, and bestowed it 
liberally upon others. With republican tastes, he de 
fended and served the monarchical system as the esta 
blished order, and was devoted to the Bourbon dy 
nasty as a matter of honor. His political sentiments 
never changed, and he never ceased to be the advo 
cate of enlightened liberty. His religious views once 
formed, he vindicated them by his writings, and 


honored them in the practice of his life. His disin 
terestedness was equal to his genius, and his benefi 
cence was continually seconded by that of his wife. 
They were the founders of the asylum Marie Therhe 
at Paris, a home for clergymen who are disatlei by 

The works of Chateaubriand are : Essai Historiquz, 
Politique, et Moral, sur les Revolutions Andennes et Moderms, 
consider ees dans leur rapport avec la Revolution Frangaist. 
Londres, 1797, in 8vo, tome i. In this work, the au 
thor, in his attempts to assimilate the events and per 
sonages of the French Revolution to those of antiqu J y, 
displays more imagination than reflection. The etyle 
as well as the substance of the volume betrays the 
youth and inexperience of the writer. lie completed 
this Essai in 1814, observing that his political views 
had suffered no change. This was in fact true, as he 
espoused in his work the principles of constitutional 
monarchy, to which he had always adhered. To tha 
honor of the author, he did not assert the same irre 
ligious sentiments that had appeared in the Essai. 
These he nobly retracted in a series of notes which he 
added to the work, without deeming it necessary to 
expunge the objectionable passages from the context, 

Atala, ou les Amours de deux Sauvages dam le Defer i. 
Paris, 1801, in 18mo. This little romance has bsen 
translated into several languages, and derives a sin 
gular charm from the vivid descriptions and impas 
sioned sentiments vhich it contains. Religion, how 
ever, has justly censured the too voluptuous character 
:>f certain passages, which are unfit for the youth 
ful eye. 


Le Genie du Christianisme; or, Tlw Genius of Chris 
tianity. Paris, 1802, 3 vols. 8vo. Of all the works of 
Chateaubriand, this had the happiest influence upon 
Ids age and country. Voltaire and his school had 
loo well succeeded in representing the dogmas ot 
Christianity as absurd, its ceremonial ridiculous, and 
its influence hostile to the progress of knowledge. 
But Chateaubriand, by the magic power of his pen, 
produced a revolution in public sentiment. Address 
ing himself chiefly to the imagination and the heart, 
L.e compares the poets, philosophers, historians, orators, 
a Ad artists of modern times with those of pagan anti 
quity, and shows how religion dignities and improves 
all that breathes its hallowed inspiration. The inaccu 
racies of thought and expression which appeared in the 
first edition, were corrected in the subsequent issues of 
the work. 

Rent, an episode of the Genie du, Christianisme. Paris, 
1807, in 12mo. In this fiction the writer depicts the 
advantages of religious seclusion, by showing the 
wretchedness of solitude where God is not the sustain 
ing thought in the soul of man. 

Les Martyrs; ou, Le Triomphe de la Religion Chretienne. 
Paris, 1810, 3 vols. in 8vo. The subject and characters 
of this work are borrowed from antiquity, sacred and 
profane. The author proves what he advances in his 
Genius of Christianity that religion, far more than 
mythology, ministers to poetic inspiration. The ex 
piring civilization of paganism, Christianity emerging 
from the catacombs, the manners of the first Chris 
tians and those of the barbarous tribes of Germany, 
furnish the author with a varied and interesting theme, 


which he presents with all the attractions of the most 
cultivated style. 

Itineraire^de Paris a Jerusalem, et de Jerusalem a Paris, 
fc. Paris, 1811, 3 vols. in 8vo. This work one of 
the most interesting from the pen of the illustrious 
author is characterized by beauty and fidelity of de 
scription, grand and poetic allusions, a happy choice 
of anecdote, sound erudition, and a perfect acquaint 
ance with antiquity. With the publication of his 
travels in the East, Chateaubriand considered his lite 
rary life brought to a close, as he soon after entered 
the career of politics, which continued until the down 
fall of Charles X. in 1830. 

During that period he published a large number of 
works, relating chiefly to the political questions of the 
day. The more important are those entitled De Buona 
parte, des Bourbons, c., 1814 ; Reflexions Politiques, 1814 ; 
Melanges de Politique, 1816; De la Monarchic selon la 
Charte, 1816. This treatise may be considered as the 
political programme of the author, and is divided into 
two parts. In the first he exposes the principles of re 
presentative government, the liberty of thought and 
of the press, &c. ; and in the second he urges the ne 
cessity of guarding against revolutionary license, and 
points out the rights of the clergy and the popular 
system of public instruction. In his Etudes Historiques, 
2 vols. 8vo, 1826, he lays down three kinds of truth as 
forming the basis of all social order : religious truth, 
which is found only in the Christian faith ; philoso 
phical truth, or the freedom of the human mind in its 
efforts to discover and perfect intellectual, moral, and 
physical science; political truth, or the union of order 


with liberty. From the alliance, separation, or colli 
sion of these three principles, all the facts of history 
have emanated. The world s inhabitants .he divides 
into three classes : pagans, Christians, and barbarians ; 
and shows how, in the first centuries of our era, they 
existed together in a confused way, afterward com 
mingled in the medieval age, and finally constituted 
the society which now covers a vast portion of the 
globe. During the same year (1826) the author pub 
lished his Natchez, 2 vols. 8vo, containing his recollec 
tions of America, and Aventures du dernier des Aben- 
cerages, in 8vo, a romance not less charming than his 
Atala, and free from the objectionable character of that 
publication. The works that came from the author s 
pen after his retirement into private life, are, besides 
those mentioned above, Essai sur Ja Literature Anglaise, 
c., 2 vols. 8vo ; Le Paradis Perdu de Milton: traduction 
nouvelle, 2 vols. 8vo, 1836 ; Le Congres de Verone, 2 vols. 
8vo, 1838 ; Vie de I Abbe de Ranee, in 8vo, 1844, rather 
a picture of the manners of the French court in the 
seventeenth century than a life of the distinguished 
Trappist. But the pen of the immortal writer still 
displays the vigorous and glowing style of his earlier 
productions, though certain passages criticized by the 
religious press show that it is not unexceptionable. 

The Memoires d Outre- Tombe, a posthumous work of 
the author, was published at Paris in ten, and has 
been reprinted in this country in five volumes. Cha 
teaubriand here sketches with a bold hand the picture 
of his whole life ; a mixture of reverie and action, of 
misfortune and contest, of glory and humiliation. We 
see grouping around him all the prominent events of 


contemporaneous history, which he explains and clears 
up. A remarkable variety exists in the subject-matter 
and in the tone of this work. The gayest and most 
magnificent descriptions of nature often appear side 
by side with the keenest satire upon society, and the 
loftiest considerations of philosophy and morals are 
blended with the most simple narrative. The vanity 
of human things appears here with striking effect, and 
the sadness which they inspire becomes still more im 
pressive under the touches of that impassioned elo 
quence which describes them. At times we discover 
in the writer the ingenious wit, and the clear, ex 
pressive, and eminently French prose, of Voltaire. 
These Memoires, however, are not faultless. The first 
part, in which he portrays the dreamy aspirations of 
his youth, may prove dangerous to the incautious 
reader. Critics charge the author with an affectation 
of false simplicity, with the abuse of neology, and with 
a puerile vanity in speaking either in his own praise 
or otherwise. They pretend, also, that the work is 
overwrought, contains contradictions, and betrays 
sometimes in the same page the changing impressions 
of the author. 

But, whatever the defects of Chateaubriand s style, 
he is universally allowed by the French of all parties to 
be their first writer. " He is also," says Alison, " a pro 
found scholar and an enlightened thinker. His know 
ledge of history and classical literature is equalled only 
by his intimate acquaintance with the early annals of 
the Church and the fathers of the Catholic faith ; 
while in his speeches delivered in the Chamber of 
Peers since the Restoration, will be found not only the 


most eloquent, but the most complete and satisfactory, 
dissertations on the political state of France during 

that period which are anywhere to be met with 

Few are aware that he is, without one single excep 
tion, the most eloquent writer of the present age; 
that, independent of politics, he has produced many 
works on morals, religion, and history, destined for 
lasting endurance; that his writings combine the 
strongest love of rational freedom with the warmest 
inspiration of Christian devotion ; that he is, as it 
were, the link between the feudal and the revolu 
tionary ages, retaining from the former its generous 
and elevated feeling, and inhaling from the latter its 
acute and fearless investigation. The last pilgrim, 
with devout feelings, to the holy sepulchre, he was the 
first supporter of constitutional freedom in France, 
discarding thus from former times their bigoted fury, 
and from modern their infidel spirit, blending all that 
was noble in the ardor of the Crusades with all that is 
generous in the enthusiasm of freedom." 31 

* Essays, Art. Chateaubriand. 



fart % first 





EVER since Christianity was first published to the world, it 
has been continually assailed by three kinds of enemies heretics, 
sophists, and those apparently frivolous characters who destroy 
every thing with the shafts of ridicule. Numerous apologists 
have given victorious answers to subtleties and falsehoods, but 
they have not been so successful against derision. St. Ignatius 
of Antioch, 1 St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, 3 Tertullian, in his 
Prescriptions? which Bossuet calls divine, combated the inno- 

1 Ignat. Epist. ad Smyrn. He was a disciple of St. John, and Bishop of 
Antioch about A. B. 70. 

2 /n Hcereses, Lib. vi. He was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was taught 
Christianity by St. John. 

3 Tertullian gave the name of Prescriptions to the excellent work he wrote 
against heretics, and the great argument of which is founded on the antiquity 



vators of their time, whose extravagant expositions corrupted 
the simplicity of the faith. 

Calumny was first repulsed by Quadratus and Aristides, philo 
sophers of Athens. We know, however, nothing of their apo 
logies for Christianity, except a fragment of the former, which 
Eusebius has preserved. 1 Both he and St. Jerome speak of the 
work of Aristides as a master-piece of eloquence. 

The Pagans accused the first Christians of atheism, incest, 
and certain abominable feasts, at which they were said to partake 
of the flesh of a new-born infant. After Quadratus and Aris 
tides, St. Justin pleaded the cause of the Christians. His style 
is unadorned, and the circumstances attending his martyrdom 
prove that he shed his blood for religion with the same sincerity 
with which he had written in its defence. 3 Athenagoras has 
shown more address in his apology, but he has neither the origi 
nality of Justin nor the impetuosity of the author of the Apo 
logetic. 3 Tertullian is the unrefined Bossuet of Africa. St. The- 
ophilus, in his three books addressed to his friend Autolychus, 
displays imagination and learning ; 4 and the Octavius of Minu- 
cius Felix exhibits the pleasing picture of a Christian and two 
idolaters conversing on religion and the nature of God, during a 
walk along the sea-shore. 5 

ajid authority of the Church. It will always be an unanswerable refutation of 
all innovators that they came too late ; that the Church was already in posses 
sion ; and, consequently, that her teaching constitutes the last appeal. Tertul 
lian lived in the third century. T. 

1 This curious fragment carries us up to the time of our Saviour himself; for 
Quadratus says, "None can doubt the truth of our Lord s miracles, because the 
persons healed and raised from the dead had been seen long after their cure; 
so that many were yet living in our own time." Euseb. Eccles. Hist. lib. iv. K. 

2 Justin, surnamed the Martyr, was a Platonic philosopher before his con 
version. He wrote two Defences of the Christians in the Greek language, 
during a violent persecution in the reign of Antoninus, the successor of 
Adrian. He suffered martyrdom A. D. 167. K. 

3 Athenagoras was a Greek philosopher of eminence, and flourished in the 
second century. He wrote not only an apology, but a treatise on the resur 
rection, both of which display talents and learning. K. 

4 St. Theophilus was Bishop of Antioch, and one of the most learned fathers 
of the Church at that period. T. 

5 He flourished at the end of the first century, was Bishop of Antioch, and 
wrote in Greek. See the elegant translation of the ancient apologists, by the 
Abbe de Gourey. 


Arnobius, the rhetorician, 1 Lactantius, 3 Eusebius, 3 and St. Cy 
prian,* also defended Christianity; but their efforts were not so 
much directed to the display of its beauty, as to the exposure of 
the absurdities of idolatry. 

Origen combated the sophists, and seems to have had the 
advantage ever Celsus, his antagonist, in learning, argument and 
style. The Greek of Origen is remarkably smooth; it is, how 
ever, interspersed with Hebrew and other foreign idioms, which 
is frequently the case with writers who are masters of various 
languages. 5 

During the reign of the emperor Julian 8 commenced a perse 
cution, perhaps more dangerous than violence itself, which 
consisted in loading the Christians with disgrace and contempt. 
Julian began his hostility by plundering the churches; he then 
forbade the faithful to teach or to study the liberal arts and 
sciences. 7 Sensible, however, of the important advantages of the 
institutions of Christianity, the emperor determined to establish 
Hospitals and monasteries, and, after the example of the gospel 
system, to combine morality with religion; he ordered a kind of 
sermons to be delivered in the Pagan temples. 

1 He was an Arian, and flourished in the third century. In an elaborate 
work against the Gentiles, he defends the Christians with ability. K. 

2 He was a scholar of Arnobius. He completely exposed the absurdity of 
the Pagan superstitions. So eminent were his talents and learning, that Con 
stantino the Great, the first Christian emperor, entrusted the education of his 
son Crispus to his care. Such is the elegance of his Latin style, that he is 
called the Christian Cicero. K. 

3 He was Bishop of Csesarea, and flourished in the fourth century. He is 
a Greek writer of profound and various learning. So copious and highly 
valuable are his works, that he is styled the Father of Ecclesiastical History. 
Constantino the Great honored him with his esteem and confidence: but he was 
unfortunately tinctured with Arianism. T. 

4 He was Bishop of Carthage in the third century, a Latin writer of great 
eloquence, and a martyr for the faith. 

5 Origen flourished in the third century. He was a priest of Alexandria. 
His voluminous works, written in Greek, prove his piety, active zeal, great 
abilities, and extensive learning. K. 

6 Julian flourished at the close of the fourth century. He became an apos 
tate from Christianity, partly on account of his aversion to the family of Con 
stantino, who had put several of his relatives to death, and partly on account 
of the seductive artifices of the Platonic philosophers, "who abused his credu 
lity and flattered his ambition. K. 

goer, iii. ch. 12. 


The sophists, by whom Julian was surrounded, assailed the 
Christian religion with the utmost violence. The emperor him 
self did not disdain to combat those whom he styled contemptible 
Galileans. The work which he wrote has not reached us; but 
St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, quotes several passages of it 
in his refutation, which has been preserved. When Julian is 
serious, St. Cyril proves too strong for him; but when the Em 
peror has recourse to irony, the Patriarch loses his advantage. 
Julian s style is witty and animated; Cyril is sometimes passion 
ate, obscure, and confused. From the time of Julian to that of 
Luther, the Church, nourishing in full vigor, had no occasion for 
apologists ; but when the western schism took place, with new 
enemies arose new defenders. It cannot be denied that at first 
the Protestants had the superiority, at least in regard to forms, 
as Montesquieu has remarked. Erasmus himself was weak when 
opposed to Luther, and Theodore Beza had a captivating manner 
of writing, in which his opponents were too often deficient. 

When Bossuet at length entered the lists, the victory remained 
not long undecided ; the hydra of heresy was once more over 
thrown. His Exposition de la Doctrine Catholique and His- 
toire des Variations, are two master-pieces, which will descend to 

It is natural for schism to lead to infidelity, and for heresy to 
engender atheism. Bayle and Spinosa arose after Calvin, and 
they found in Clarke and Leibnitz men of sufficient talents to 
refute their sophistry. Abbadie wrote an apology for religion, 
remarkable for method and sound argument. Unfortunately his 
style is feeble, though his ideas are not destitute of brilliancy. 
"If the ancient philosophers,"- observes Abbadie, "adored the 
Virtues, their worship was only a beautiful species of idolatry." 

While the Church was yet enjoying her triumph, Voltaire 
renewed the persecution of Julian. He possessed the baneful 
art of making infidelity fashionable among a capricious but 
amiable people . Every species of self-love was pressed into this 
insensate league. Religion was attacked with every kind of 
weapon, from the pamphlet to the folio, from the epigram to the 
sophism. No sooner did a religious book appear than the author 
was overwhelmed with ridicule, while works which Voltaire was 
the first to laugh at among his friends were extolled to the skies. 


Such was his superiority over his disciples, that sometimes he 
could not forbear diverting himself with their irreligious enthu 
siasm. Meanwhile the destructive system continued to spread 
throughout France. It was first adopted in those provincial aca 
demies, each of which was a focus of bad taste and faction. 
Women of fashion and grave philosophers alike read lectures on 
infidelity. It was at length concluded that Christianity was no 
better than a barbarous system, and that its fall could not happen 
too soon for the liberty of mankind, the promotion of knowledge, 
the improvement of the arts, and the general comfort of life. 

To say nothing of the abyss into which we were plunged by 
this aversion to the religion of the gospel, its immediate conse 
quence was a return, more affected than sincere, to that mytho 
logy of Greece and Home to which all the wonders of antiquity 
were ascribed. 1 People were not ashamed to regret that worship 
which had transformed mankind into a herd of madmen, mon 
sters of indecency, or ferocious beasts. This could not fail to 
inspire contempt for the writers of the age of Louis XIV., who, 
however, had reached the high perfection which distinguished 
them, only by being religious. If no one ventured to oppose 
them face to face, on account of their firmly-established reputa 
tion, they were, nevertheless, attacked in a thousand indirect ways. 
It was asserted that they were unbelievers in their hearts; or, at 
least, that they would have been much greater characters had 
they lived in oar times. Every author blessed his good fortune 
for having been born in the glorious age of the Diderots and 
d Aleruberts, in that age when all the attainments of the human 
mind were ranged in alphabetical order in the Encyclopedic) 
that Babel of the sciences and of reason. 3 

Men distinguished for their intelligence and learning endea 
vored to check this torrent; but their resistance was vain. Their 
voice was lost in the clamors of the crowd, and their victory was 
unknown to the frivolous people who directed public opinion in 
Prance, and upon whom, for that reason, it was highly necessary 
to make an impression. 3 

1 The age of Louis XIV., though it knew and admired antiquity more than 
we, was a Christian age. 

2 See nots A at the end of the volume. 

The Lettrea de quelque* Jui.fx Portuyais had a momentary success, but it 


Thus, the fatality which had given a triumph to the sophists 
iuring the reign of Julian, made them victorious in our times. 
The defenders of the Christians fell into an error which had 
before undone them : they did not perceive that the question 
was no longer to discuss this or that particular tenet since the 
very foundation on which these tenets were built was rejected by 
their opponents. By starting from the mission of Jesus Christ, 
and descending from one consequence to another, they established 
the truths of faith on a solid basis ; but this mode of reasoning, 
wliich might have suited the seventeenth century extremely well, 
when the groundwork was not contested, proved of no use ic 
our days. It was necessary to pursue a contrary method, and to 
ascend from the effect to the cause ; not to prove that the Chris 
tian rcliyion is excellent because it comes from God, but that it 
comes from God because it is excellent. 

They likewise committed another error in attaching import 
ance to the serious refutation of the sophists ; a class of men whom 
it is utterly impossible to convince, because they are always in 
the wrong. They overlooked the fact that these people are never 
in earnest in their pretended search after truth ; that they esteem 
none but themselves ; that they are not even attached to their 
own system, except for the sake of the noise which it makes, 
and are ever ready to forsake it on the first change of public 

For not having made this remark, much time and trouble 
were thrown away by those who undertook the vindication of 
Christianity. Their object should have been to reconcile to 
religion, not the sophists, but those whom they were leading 
astray. They had been seduced by being told that Christianity 
was the offspring of barbarism, an enemy of the arts and sciences, 
of reason and refinement ; a religion whose only tendency was 
to encourage bloodshed, to enslave mankind, to diminish their 
happiness, and to retard the progress of the human under 

It was, therefore, necessary to prove that, on the contrary, the 
Christian religion, of all the religions that ever existed, is the 
most humane, the most favorable to liberty and to the arts and 

was soon lost sight of in the irreligious storm that was gathering over 


scieuocs; that the modern world is irdebted to it for every im 
provement, from agriculture to the abstract sciences from the 
hospitals for the reception of the unfortunate to the temples 
reared by the Michael Angelos and embellished by the Ra 
phaels. It was necessary to prove that nothing is more divine 
than its morality nothing more lovely and more sublime than 
its tenets, its doctrine, and its worship; that it encourages genius, 
corrects the taste, develops the virtuous passions, imparts energy 
to the ideas, presents noble images to the writer, and perfect 
models to the artist ; that there is no disgrace in being believers 
with Newton and Bossuet, with Pascal and Racine. In a word, 
it was necessary to summon all the charms of the imagination, 
and all the interests of the heart, to the assistance of that reli 
gion against which they had been set in array. 

The reader may now have a clear view of the object of our 
work. All other kinds of apologies are exhausted, and perhaps 
they would be useless at the present day. Who would now sit 
down to read a work professedly theological ? Possibly a few 
sincere Christians who are already convinced. But, it may be 
asked, may there not be some danger in considering religion in a 
merely human point of view? Why so? Does our religion 
shrink from the light? Surely one great proof of its divine 
origin is, that it will bear the test of the fullest and severest 
scrutiny of reason. Would you have us always open to the re 
proach of enveloping our tenets in sacred obscurity, lest their 
falsehood should be detected ? Will Christianity be the less 
true for appearing the more beautiful ? Let us banish our weak 
apprehensions ; let us not, by an excess of religion, leave religion 
to perish. We no longer live in those times when you might 
say, " Believe without inquiring/ People will inquire in spite 
of us; and our timid silence, in heightening the triumph of the 
infidel, will diminish the number of believers. 

It is time that the world should know to what all those charges 
of absurdity, vulgarity, and meanness, that are daily alleged 
against Christianity, may be reduced. It is time to demonstrate, 
that, instead of debasing the ideas, it encourages the soul to take 
the most daring flights, and is capable of enchanting the imagi 
nation as divinely as the deities of Homer and Virgil. Our 
arguments will at least have this advantage, that they will be 
5 D 


intelligible to the world at large, and will require nothing but 
common sense to determine their weight and strength. In 
works of this kind authors neglect, perhaps rather too much, to 
speak the language of their readers. It is necessary to be a 
scholar with a scholar, and a poet with a poet. The Almighty 
does not forbid us to tread the flowery path, if it serves to lead 
the wanderer once more to him ; nor is it always by the steep 
and rugged mountain that the lost sheep finds its way back to 
the fold. 

We think that this mode of considering Christianity displays 
associations of ideas which are but imperfectly known. Sublime 
in the antiquity of its recollections, which go back to the crea 
tion of the world, ineffable in its mysteries, adorable in its 
sacraments, interesting in its history, celestial in its morality, 
rich and attractive in its ceremonial, it is fraught with every 
species of beauty. Would you follow it in poetry? Tasso, Mil 
ton, Corneille, Racine, Voltaire, will depict to you its miraculous 
effects. In the belles-lettres, in eloquence, history, and philoso 
phy, what have not Bossuet, Fenelon, Massillon, Bourdaloue, 
Bacon, Pascal, Kuler, Newton, Leibnitz, produced by its divine 
inspiration ! In the arts, what master-pieces ! If you examine 
it in its worship, what ideas are suggested by its antique Gothic 
churches, its admirable prayers, its impressive ceremonies ! 
Among its clergy, behold all those scholars who have handed 
down to you the languages and the works of Greece and Rome ; 
all those anchorets of Thebais ; all those asylums for the unfor 
tunate; all those missionaries to China, to Canada, to Paraguay; 
not forgetting the military orders whence chivalry derived its 
origin. Every thing has been engaged in our cause the man 
ners of our ancestors, the pictures of days of yore, poetry, even 
romances themselves. We have called smiles from the cradle, 
and tears from the tomb. Sometimes, with the Maronite monk, 
we dwell on the summits of Carmel and Lebanon ; at others we 
watch with the Daughter of Charity at the bedside of the sick. 
Here two American lovers summon us into the recesses of their 
deserts; 1 there we listen to the sighs of the virgin in the solitude 

1 The author alludes to the very beautiful and pathetic tale of Atnla, or The 
Love and Constancy of Two Savages in the Desert, which was at first ntroduced 
into the present work, but was afterward detached from it. T. 


of the cloister. . Homer takes his place by Milt on, at d Virgil 
beside Tasso ; the ruins of Athens and of Memphis form con 
trasts with the ruins of Christian monuments, and the tombs of 
Ossian with our rural churchyards. At St. Dennis we visit the 
ashes of kings ; and when our subject requires us to treat of the 
existence of Grod, we seek our proofs in the wonders of Nature 
alone. In short, we endeavor to strike the heart of the infidel 
in every possible way; but we dare not natter ourselves that we 
possess the miraculous rod of religion which caused living 
streams to burst from the flinty rock. 

Four parts, each divided into six books, compose the whole of 
our work. The first treats of dogma and doctrine. The second 
and third comprehend the poetic of Christianity, or its con 
nection with poetry, literature, and the arts. The fourth em 
braces its worship, that is to say, whatever relates to the ceremo 
nies of the Church, and to the clergy, both secular and regular. 

We have frequently compared the precepts, doctrines, and 
worship of other religions with those of Christianity; and, to gra 
tify all classes of readers, we have also occasionally touched upon 
the historical and mystical part of the subject. Having thus 
stated the general plan of the work, we shall now enter upon 
that portion of it which treats of Dogma and Doctrine, and, as a 
preliminary step to the consideration of the Christian mysteries, 
we shall institute an inquiry into the nature of mysterious things 
in general 



THERE is nothing beautiful, pleasing, or grand in life, but 
that which is more or less mysterious. The most wonderful sen 
timents are those which produce impressions difficult to be 
explained. Modesty, chaste love, virtuous friendship, are full of 
secrets. It would seem that half a word is sufficient for the 
mutual understanding of hearts that love, and that they are, aa 
it were, disclosed to each other s view. Is not innocence, also, 


which is nothing but a holy ignorance, the most ineffable of mys 
teries? If infancy is so happy, it is owing to the absence of 
knowledge ; and if old age is so wretched, it is because it knows 
every thing; but, fortunately for the latter, when the mysteries 
of life are at an end, those of death commence. 

What we say here of the sentiments may be said also of the 
virtues : the most angelic are those which, emanating immedi 
ately from God, such as charity, studiously conceal themselves, 
like their source, from mortal view. 

If we pass to the qualities of the mind, we shall find that the 
pleasures of the understanding are in like manner secrets. Mys 
tery is of a nature so divine, that the early inhabitants of Asia 
conversed only by symbols. What science do we continually 
apply, if not that which always leaves something to be conjec 
tured, and which sets before our eyes an unbounded prospect? 
If we wander in the desert, a kind of instinct impels us to avoid 
the plains, where we can embrace every object at a single glance; 
we repair to those forests, the cradle of religion, those forests 
whose shades, whose sounds, and whose silence, are full of won 
der^ those solitudes, where the first fathers of the Church were 
fed by the raven and the bee, and where those holy men tasted 
such inexpressible delights, as to exclaim, " Enough, Lord! I 
will be overpowered if thou dost not moderate thy divine com 
munications." We do not pause at the foot of a modern monu 
ment; but if, in a desert island, in the midst of the wide ocean, 
we come all at once to a statue of bronze, whose extended arm 
points to the regions of the setting sun, and whose base, covered 
with hieroglyphics, attests the united ravages of the billows and 
of time, what a fertile source of meditation is here opened to the 
traveller ! There is nothing in the universe but what is hidden, 
but what is unknown. Is not man himself an inexplicable mys 
tery? Whence proceeds that flash of lightning which we call 
existence, and in what night is it about to be extinguished? 
The Almighty has stationed Birth and Death, under the form of 
veiled phantoms, at the two extremities of our career; the one 
produces the incomprehensible moment of life, which the other 
uses every exertion to destroy. 

Considering, then, the natural propensity of man to the mys 
terious, it cannot appear surprising that the religions of all na- 


tions should have had their impenetrable secrets. The Selli 
studied the miraculous words of the doves of Dodona ; 4 India, 
Persia, Ethiopia, Scythia, the Gauls, the Scandinavians, had their 
caverns, their holy mountains, their sacred oaks, where the 
Brahmins, the Magi, the Gymnosophists, or the Druids, pro 
claimed the inexplicable oracle of the gods. 

Heaven forbid that we should have any intention to compare 
these mysteries with those of the true religion, or the inscrutable 
decrees of the Sovereign of the Universe with the changing 
ambiguities of gods, "the work of human hands." 3 We merely 
wished to remark that there is no religion without mysteries; 
these, with sacrifices, constitute the essential part of worship. 
God himself is the great secret cf Nature. The Divinity was 
represented veiled in Egypt, and the sphinx was seated upon the 
threshold of the temples. 3 



The Trinity. 

WE perceive at the first glance, that, in regard to mysteries, 
the Christian religion has a great advantage over the religions of 
antiquity. The mysteries of the latter bore no relation to man, 
and afforded, at the utmost, but a subject of reflection to the 
philosopher or of song to the poet. Our mysteries, on the con- 

1 They were an ancient people of Epirus, and lived near Dodona. At that 
place there was a celebrated temple of Jupiter. The oracles were said tc be 
delivered from it by doves endowed with a human voice. Herodotus relates 
that a priestess was brought hither from Egypt by the Phoenicians; so the 
Btorv of the doves might arise from the ambiguity of the Greek term lltXcia, 
nhrch signifies a dove, in the general language, but in the dialect of Epirus it 
Means an aged woman. K. 

2 Wisdom, ch. xiii. v. 10. 

3 The Sphinx, a monstrous creature of Egyptian invention, was the just em 
blem of mystery, as, according to the Grecian mythology, she not only infested 
Bceotia with her depredations, but perplexed its inhabitants, not famed for 
their acuteness, with her enigmas. K. 



trary, speak directly to the heart; they comprehend the secrets 
of our existence. The question here is not about a futile ar 
rangement of numbers, but concerning the salvation and felicity 
of the human race. Is it possible for man, whom daily expe 
rience so fully convinces of his ignorance and frailty, to reject 
the mysteries of Jesus Christ ? They are the mysteries of the un 
fortunate ! 

The Trinity, which is the first mystery presented by the 
Christian faith, opens an immense field for philosophic study, 
whether we consider it in the attributes of God, or examine the 
vestiges of this dogma, which was formerly diffused throughout 
the East. It is a pitiful mode of reasoning to reject whatever 
we cannot comprehend. It would be easy to prove, beginning 
even with the most simple things in life, that we know absolutely 
nothing; shall we, then, pretend to penetrate into the depths 
of divine Wisdom? 

The Trinity was probably known to the Egyptians. The 
Greek inscription on the great obelisk in the Circus Major, at 
Rome, was to this effect : 

Mfyac; 0e<k, The Mighty God; 8 soy tyros, the Begotten of 
God; Haiupzyjr^, the All-Resplendent, (Apollo, the Spirit.) 

Heraclides of Pontus, and Porphyry, record a celebrated oracle 
of Serapis: 

rjpwra 00j, fjtTnira Xdyoj KO.I itvcv^a ai>i> aiiroif. 
^Vfifpvra <3>j rpia rrdfra, ical ci$ tv i6vra, 

"In the beg inning was God, then the Word and the Spirit; 
all three produced together, and uniting in one." 

The Magi had a sort of Trinity, in their Metris, Oromasis, and 
Araminis; or Mitra, Oramases, and Arimane. 

Plato seems to allude to this incomprehensible dogma in seve 
ral of his works. "Not only is it alleged," says Dacier, "that 
he had a knowledge of the Word, the eternal Son of God, but it 
is also asserted that he was acquainted with the Holy Ghost, and 
thus had some idea of the Most Holy Trinity; for he writes as 
follows to the younger Dionysius : 

"I must give Archedemus an explanation respecting what is 
infinitely more important and more divine, and what you are ex 
tremely anxious to know, since you have sent him to me for the 
express purpose; for, from what he has told me, you are of opi 


nion that I have not sufficiently explained what I thii.k of the 
nature of the first principle. I am obliged to write to you in 
enigmas, that, if my letter should be intercepted either by land 
or sea, those who read may not be able to understand it. All 
things are around their king; they exist for him, and he alone 
is the cause of good things second for such as are second, and 
third for those that are third/ 1 

"In the Epinomit, and elsewhere, he lays down as principles 
the first good, the word or the understanding, and the soul. 
The first good is God; the word, or the understanding, is the Son 
of this first good, by whom he was begotten like to himself; and 
the soul, which is the middle term between the Father and the 
Son, is the Holy Ghost." 3 

Plato had borrowed this doctrine of the Trinity from Timaeus, 
the Locrian, who had received it from the Italian school. Mar- 
silius Ficinus, in one of his remarks on Plato, shows, after Jam- 
blichus, Porphyry, Plato, and Maximus of Tyre, that the Pytha 
goreans were acquainted with the excellence of the number 
Three. Pythagoras intimates it in these words: llporiaa TO 
ff^fj-a, xai flr t [j.a xal TptwSokov ; "Honor chiefly the habit, the 
judgment-seat, and the triobolus," (three oboli.) 

The doctrine of the Trinity is known in the East Indies and 
in Thibet. "On this subject," says Father Calamette, "the most 
remarkable and surprising thing that I have met with is a pas 
sage in one of their books entitled Lamaastambam. It begins 
thus : t The Lord, the good, the great God, in his mouth is the 
Word. The term which they employ personifies the Word. It 
then treats of the Holy Ghost under the appellation of the Wind, 
or Perfect Spirit, and concludes with the Creation, which it 
attributes to one single God." 3 

"What I have learned," observes the same missionary in an 
other place, "respecting the religion of Thibet, is as follows : They 
call God Konciosa, and seem to have some idea of the adorable 
Trinity, for sometimes they term him Koncikocick, the one God, 

1 This passage of Plato, which the author could not verify, from its having 
been incorrectly quoted by Dacier, may be found in Plato Serrani, tome i. p. 
312, letter the second to Dionysius. The letter is supposed to be genuine. K. 

2 (Euvres de Platon, trad, par Dacier, tome i. p. 194 
8 Lettres edif., tome xiv. p. 9. 


and at others Konciolimm, which is equivalent to the Triune God. 
They make use of a kind of chaplet, over which they pronounce 
the words, om, ha, hum. When you ask what these mean, they 
reply that the first signifies intelligence, or arm, that is to say, 
power; that the second is the word; that the third is the heart, 
or love; and that these three words together signify God/ 1 

The English missionaries to Otaheite have found some notion 
of the Trinity among the natives of that island. 2 

Nature herself seems to furnish a kind of physical proof of the 
Trinity, which is the archetype of the universe, or, if you wish, 
its divine frame-work. May not the external and material world 
bear some impress of that invisible and spiritual arch which sus 
tains it, according to Plato s idea, who represented corporeal 
things as the shadows of the thoughts of God? The number 
Three is the term by excellence in nature. It is not a product 
itself, but it produces all other fractions, which led Pythagoras to 
call it the motherless number. 3 

Some obscure tradition of the Trinity may be discovered even 
in the fables of polytheism. The Graces took it for their num 
ber ; it existed in Tartarus both for the life and death of man 
and for the infliction of celestial vengeance ; finally, three bro 
ther gods 4 possessed among them the complete dominion of the 

The philosophers divided the moral man into three parts; and 
the Fathers imagi-ied that they discovered the image of the 
spiritual Trinity in the human soul. 

1 Lettres edif., torn. xii. p. 437. 

2 " The three deities which they hold supreme arc 

1. Tane, te Medooa, the Father. 

2. Oromattow, God in the Son. 

3. Taroa, the Bird, the Spirit." 

Appendix to the Missionary Voyage, p. 333. K . 

3 Hier., Comm. in Pyth. The 3, a simple number itself, is the only one com 
posed of simples, and that gives a simple number when decomposed. We can 
form no complex number, the 2 excepted, without the 3. The formations of 
the 3 are beautiful, and embrace that powerful unity which is the first link in 
the chain of numbers, and is everywhere exhibited in the universe. The an 
cients very frequently applied numbers in a metaphysical sense, and we should 
not be too hasty in condemning it as folly in Pythagoras, Plato, and the 
Egyptian priests, from whom they derived this science. 

4 That is, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto. K. 


" If we impose silence on our senses," says the great Bossuet, 
" and retire for a short time into the recesses of our soul, that is 
to say, into that part where the voice of truth is heard, we shall 
there perceive a sort of image of the Trinity whom we adore. 
Thought, which we feel produced as the offspring of our mind, 
as the son of our understanding, gives us some idea of the Son 
of God, conceived from all eternity in the intelligence of the 
celestial Father. For this reason this Son of God assumes the 
name of the Word, to intimate that he is produced in the bosom 
of the Father, not as bodies are generated, but as the inward 
voice that is heard within our souls there arises when we contem 
plate truth. 

" But the fecundity of the mind does not stop at this inward 
voice, this intellectual thought, this image of the truth that is 
formed within us. We love both this inward voice and the 
intelligence which gives it birth ; and while we love them, we 
feel within us something which is not less precious to us than 
intelligence and thought, which is the fruit of both, which unites 
them and unites with them, and forms with them but one and 
the same existence. 

" Thus, as far as there can be any resemblance between God 
and man, is produced in God the eternal Love which springs from 
the Father who thinks, and from the Son who is his thought, to 
constitute with him and his thought one and the same nature, 
equally happy and equally perfect." 1 

What a beautiful commentary is this on that passage of Gene 
sis : "Let us make man!" 

Tertullian, in his Apology, thus expresses himself on this 
great mystery of our religion : fi God created the world by his 
word, his reason, and his power. You philosophers admit that 
the Logos, the word and reason, is the Creator of the universe. 
The Christians merely add that the proper substance of the word 
and reason that substance by which God produced all things 
is spirit; that this word must have been pronounced by God; 
that having been pronounced, it was generated by him ; that con 
sequently it is the Son of God, and God by reason of the anity 
of substance. If the sun shoots forth a ray, its substance .s not 

1 Bossuet, Hist. Univ., sec. i. p. 248. 


separated, but extended. Thus the Word is spirit of i. spirit, 
and God of God, like a light kindled at another light. Thus, 
whatever proceeds from God is God, and the two, with their 
spirit, form but one, differing in properties, not in number; in 
order, not in nature : the Son having sprung from his prin 
ciple without being separated from it. Now this ray of the 
Divinity descended into the womb of a virgin, invested itself 
with flesh, and became man united with God. This flesh, sup 
ported by the spirit, was nourished; it grew, spoke, taught, 
acted; it was Christ." 

This proof of the Trinity may be comprehended by persons 
of the simplest capacity. It must be recollected that Tertullian 
was addressing men who persecuted Christ, and whom nothing 
would have more highly gratified than the means of attacking 
the doctrine, and even the persons, of his defenders. We shall 
pursue these proofs no farther, but leave them to those who have 
studied the principles of the Italic sect of philosophers and the 
higher department of Christian theology. 

As to the images that bring under our feeble senses the most 
sublime mystery of religion, it is difficult to conceive how the 
awful triangular fire, resting on a cloud, is unbecoming the dig 
nity of poetry. Is Christianity less impressive than the heathen 
mythology, when it represents to us the Father under the form 
of an old man, the majestic ancestor of ages, or as a brilliant 
effusion of light ? Is there not something wonderful in the con 
templation of the Holy Spirit, the sublime Spirit of Jehovah, 
under the emblem of gentleness, love, and innocence? Doth 
God decree the propagation of his word? The Spirit, then, 
ceases to be that Dove which overshadowed mankind with the 
wings of peace ; he becomes a visible word, a tongue of fire, 
which speaks all the languages of the earth, and whose eloquence 
creates or overthrows empires. 

To delineate the divine Son, we need only borrow the words 
of the apostle who beheld him in his glorified state. He was 
seated on a throne, says St. John in the Apocalypse ; his face 
shone like the fsun in his strength, and his feet like fine brass 
melted in a furnace. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and out 
of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. In his right hand 
he held seven stars, and in his left a book sealed with seven 


seals : his voice was as the sound of many waters. The seven 
spirits of God burned before him, like seven lamps ; and he went 
forth from his throne attended by lightnings, and voices, and 



As the Trinity comprehends secrets of the metaphysical kind, 
80 the redemption contains the wonders of man, and the inex 
plicable history of his destination and his heart. Were we to 
pause a little in our meditations, with what profound astonish 
ment would we contemplate those two great mysteries, which 
conceal in their shades the primary intentions of God and the 
system of the universe ! The Trinity, too stupendous for our 
feeble comprehension, confounds our thoughts, and we shrink 
back overpowered by its glory. But the affecting mystery of the 
redemption, in filling our eyes with tears, prevents them from 
being too much dazzled, and allows us to fix them at least for a 
moment upon the cross. 

We behold, in the first place, springing from this mystery, the 
doctrine of original sin, which explains the whole nature of man. 
Unless we admit this truth, known by tradition to all nations, we 
become involved in impenetrable darkness. Without original 
sin, how shall we account for the vicious propensity of our nature 
continually combated by a secret voice which whispers that we 
were formed for virtue ? Without a primitive fall, how shall we 
explain the aptitude of man for affliction that sweat which 
fertilizes the rugged soil ; the tears, the sorrows, the misfortunes 
of the righteous ] the triumphs, the unpunished success, of the 
wicked ? It was because they were unacquainted with this de 
generacy, that the philosophers of antiquity fell into such strange 
errors, and invented the notion of reminiscence. To be con 
vinced of the fatal truth whence springs the mystery of redemp 
tion, we need no other proof than the malediction pronounced 
against Eve, a malediction which is daily accomplished before 


our eyes. How significant are the pangs, and at the same time 
the joys, of a mother ! What mysterious intimations of man and 
his twofold destiny, predicted at once by the pains and pleasures 
of child-birth ! We cannot mistake the views of the Most High, 
when we behold the two great ends of man in the labor of his 
mother; and we are compelled to recognise a God even in a 

After all, we daily see the son punished for the father, and the 
crime of a villain recoiling upon a virtuous descendant, which 
proves but too clearly the doctrine of original sin. But a God 
of clemency and indulgence, knowing that we should all have 
perished in consequence of this fall, has interposed to save us. 
Frail and guilty mortals as we all are, let us ask, not our under 
standings, but our hearts, how a God could die for man. If this 
perfect model of a dutiful son, if this pattern of faithful friends, 
if that agony in Gethsemane, that bitter cup, that bloody sweat, 
that tenderness of soul, that sublimity of mind, that cross, that 
veil rent in twain, that rock cleft asunder, that darkness of na 
ture in a word, if that God, expiring at length for sinners, can 
neither enrapture our heart nor inflame our understanding, it is 
greatly to be feared that our works will never exhibit, like those 
of the poet, the " brilliant wonders" which attract a high and 
just admiration. 

" Images," it may perhaps be urged, " are not reasons ; and 
we live in an enlightened age, which admits nothing without 

That we live in an enlightened age has been doubted by some ; 
but we would not be surprised if we were met with the foregoing 
objection. When Christianity was attacked by serious argu 
ments, they were answered by an Origen, a Clark, a Bossuet. 
Closely pressed by these formidable champions, their adversaries 
endeavored to extricate themselves by reproaching religion with 
those very metaphysical disputes in which they would involve us. 
They alleged, like Arius, Celsus, and Porphyry, that Christianity 
is but a tissue of subtleties, offering nothing to the imagination 
and the heart, and adopted only by madmen and simpletons. But 
if any one comes forward, and in reply to these reproaches en 
deavors to show that the religion of the gospel is the religion of 
the soul, fraught with sensibility, its foes immediately exclaim, 


" Well, and what does that prove, except that you are more or 
less skilful in drawing a picture V Thus, when you attempt to 
work upon the feelings, they require axioms and corollaries. If, 
on the other hand, you begin to reason, they then want nothing 
but sentiments and images. It is difficult to close with such 
versatile enemies, who are never to be found at the post where 
they challenge you to fight them. We shall hazard a few words 
on the subject of the redemption, to show that the theology of 
the Christian religion is not so absurd as some have affected to 
consider it. 

A universal tradition teaches us that man was created in a 
more perfect state than that in which he at present exists, and 
that there has been a fall. This tradition is confirmed by the 
opinion of philosophers in every age and country, who have never 
been able to reconcile their ideas on the subject of moral man, 
without supposing a primitive state of perfection, from which 
human nature afterward fell by its own fault. 

If man was created, he was created for some end : now, having 
been created perfect, the end for which he was destined could not 
be otherwise than "perfect. 

But has the final cause of man been changed by his fall ? 
No ; since man has not been created anew, nor the human race 
exterminated to make room for another. 

Man, therefore, though he has become mortal and imperfect 
through his disobedience, is still destined to an immortal and 
perfect end. But how shall he attain this end in his present 
state of imperfection ? This he can no longer accomplish by his 
own energy, for the same reason that a sick man is incapable of 
raising himself to that elevation of ideas which is attainable by 
a person in health. There is, therefore, a disproportion between 
the power, and the weight to be raised by that power; here we 
already perceive the necessity of succor, or of a redemption. 

"This kind of reasoning," it may be said, "will apply to the 
first man ; but as for us, we are capable of attaining the ends of 
our existence. What injustice and absurdity, to imagine that we 
should all be punished for the fault of our first parent !" With 
out undertaking to decide in this place whether God is right or 
wrong in making us sureties for one another, all that we know, 
and all that it is necessary for us to know at present, is, that such 


a law exists. We know that the innocent son universally suffers 
the punishment due to the guilty father ; that this law is so in- 
terwoven in the principles of things as to hold good even in the 
physical order of the universe. When an infant comes into the 
world diseased from head to foot from its father s excesses, why 
do you not complain of the injustice of nature ? What has this 
little innocent done, that it should endure the punishment of 
another s vices ? Well, the diseases of the soul are perpetuated 
like those of the body, and man is punished in his remotest 
posterity for the fault which introduced into his nature the first 
leaven of sin. 

The fall, then, being attested by general tradition, and by the 
transmission or generation of evil, both moral and physical, and, 
on the other hand, the ends for which man was designed being 
now as perfect as before his disobedience, notwithstanding his 
own degeneracy, it follows that a redemption, or any expedient 
whatever to enable man to fulfil those ends, is a natural conse 
quence of the state into which human nature has fallen. 

The necessity of redemption being once admitted, let us seek 
the order in which it may be found. This order may be con 
sidered either in man, or above man. 

1. In man. The supposition of a redemption implies that 
the price must be at least equivalent to the thing to be redeemed. 
Now, how is it to be imagined that imperfect and mortal man 
could have offered himself, in order to regain a perfect and im 
mortal end ? How could man, partaking himself of the primeval 
sin, have made satisfaction as well for the portion of guilt which 
belonged to himself, as for that which attached to the rest 
of the human family? Would not such self-devotion have re 
quired a love and virtue superior to his nature ? Heaven seems 
purposely to have suffered four thousand years to elapse from 
the fall to the redemption, to allow men time to judge, of them 
selves, how very inadequate their degraded virtues were for such 
a sacrifice. 

We have no alternative, then, but the second supposition, 
namely, that the redemption could have proceeded only from a 
being superior to man. Let us examine if it could have been 
accomplished by any of the intermediate beings between him 
and God. 


It was a beautiful idea of Milton 1 to represent the Almighty 
announcing the fall to the astonished heavens, and asking if any 
of the celestial powers was willing to devote himself for the sal 
vation of mankind. All the divine hierarchy was mute; and 
among so many seraphim, thrones, dominations, angels, and arch 
angels, none had the courage to make so great a sacrifice. No 
thing can be more strictly true in theology than this idea of the 
poet s. What, indeed, could have inspired the angels with that 
unbounded love for man which the mystery of the cross supposes? 
Moreover, how could the most exalted of created spirits have 
possessed strength sufficient for the stupendous task ? No angelic 
substance could, from the weakness of its nature, have taken up 
on itself those sufferings which, in the language of Massillon, 
accumulated upon the head of Christ all the physical torments 
that might be supposed to attend the punishment of all the sins 
committed since the beginning of time, and all the moral anguish, 
all the remorse, which sinners must have experienced for crimes 
committed. If the Son of Man himself found the cup bitter, 
how could an angel have raised it to his lips? Oh, no; he never 
could have drunk it to the dregs, and the sacrifice could not have 
been consummated. 

We could not, then, have any other redeemer than one of the 
three persons existing from all eternity; and among these three 
persons of the Godhead, it is obvious that the Son alone, from 
his very nature, was to accomplish the great work of salvation. 
Love which binds together all the parts of the universe, the 

i Say, heavenly powers, where shall we find such love 
Which of you will be mortal to redeem 
Man s mortal crime? and just, th unjust to save? 
Dwells in all heaven charity so dear? 

He ask d, but all the heavenly choir stood mute, 
And silence was in heaven : on man s behalf 
Patron or intercessor none appear d; 
Much less that durst upon his own head draw 
The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set. 
And now without redemption all mankind 
Must have been lost, adjudged to death and hell, 
By doom severe, had not the Son of God, 
In whom the fulness dwells of love divine, 
His dearest mediation thus renew d. 

PARADISE LOST, b. iii., 1. 213. K. 


Mean which unites the extremes, Vivifying Principle of nature, 
he alone was capable of reconciling God with man. This second 
Adam came; man according to the flesh, by his birth of Mary; 
a man of sanctity by his gospel ; a man divine by his union with 
the Godhead. He was born of a virgin, that he might be free 
from original sin and a victim without spot and without blemish. 
He received life in a stable, in the lowest of human conditions, 
because we had fallen through pride. Here commences the depth 
of the mystery; man feels an awful emotion, and the scene closes. 
Thus, the end for which we were destined before the disobedi 
ence of our first parents is still pointed out to us, but the way to 
secure it is no longer the same. Adam, in a state of innocence, 
would have reached it by flowery paths : Adam, in his fallen 
condition, must cross precipices to attain it. Nature has under 
gone a change since the fall of our first parents, and redemption 
was designed, not to produce a new creation, but to purchase final 
salvation for the old. Every thing, therefore, has remained de 
generate with man; and this sovereign of the universe, who, 
created immortal, was destined to be exalted, without any change 
of existence, to the felicity of the celestial powers, cannot now 
enjoy the presence of God till, in the language of St. Chrysostom, 
he has passed through the deserts of the tomb. His soul has 
been rescued from final destruction by the redemption; but hia 
body, combining with the frailty natural to matter the weakness 
consequent on sin, undergoes the primitive sentence in its utmost 
extent : he falls, he sinks, he passes into dissolution. Thus God, 
after the fall of our first parents, yielding to the entreaties of 
his Son, and unwilling to destroy the whole of his work, invented 
death, as a demi-annihilation, to fill the sinner with horror of that 
complete dissolution to which, but for the wonders of celestial 
love, he would have been inevitably doomed. 

We venture to presume, that, if there be any thing clear in 
metaphysics, it is this chain of reasoning. There is here no 
wresting of words; there are no divisions and subdivisions, no 
obscure or barbarous terms. Christianity is not made up of such 
things as the sarcasms of infidelity would fain have us imagine. 
To the poor in spirit the gospel has been preached, and by the 
poor in spirit it has been heard: it is the plainest book that 
exists. Its doctrine has not its seat in the head, but in the 


heart; it teaches not the art of disputation, but the way to lead a 
virtuous life. Nevertheless, it is not without its secrets. What is 
truly ineffable in the Scripture is the continual mixture of the 
profoundest mysteries and the utmost simplicity characters 
whence spring the pathetic and the sublime. We should no 
longer be surprised, then, that the work of Jesus Christ 
speaks so eloquently. Such, moreover, are the truths of our re 
ligion, notwithstanding their freedom from scientific parade, that 
the admission of one single point immediately compels you to 
admit all the rest. Nay, more : if you hope to escape by deny 
ing the principle, as, for instance, original sin, you will soon, 
driven from consequence to consequence, be obliged to precipi 
tate yourself into the abyss of atheism. The moment you acknow 
ledge a God, the Christian religion presents itself, in spite of you, 
with all its doctrines, as Clarke and Pascal have observed. This, 
in our opinion, is one of the strongest evidences in favor of 

In short, we must not be astonished if he who causes millions 
of worlds to roll without confusion over our heads, has infused 
euch harmony into the principles of a religion instituted by him 
self; we need not be astonished at his making the charms and 
the glories of its mysteries revolve in the circle of the most con 
vincing logic, as he commands those planets to revolve in their 
orbits to bring us flowers and storms in their respective seasons. 
We can scarcely conceive the reason of the aversion shown by 
the present age for Christianity. If it be true, as some philoso 
phers have thought, that some religion or other is necessary for 
mankind, what system would you adopt instead of the faith of 
our forefathers? Long shall we remember the days when men 
of blood pretended to erect altars to the Virtues, on the ruins of 
Christianity. 1 With one hand they reared scaffolds; with the 
other, on the fronts of our temples they inscribed Eternity to 
God and Death to man; and those temples, where once was 
found that God who is acknowledged by the whole universe, and 
where devotion to Mary consoled so many afflicted hearts, those 
temples were dedicated to Truth, which no man knows, and to 
Reason, which never dried a tear. 

1 The author alludes to the disastrous tyranny exercised by Robespierre over 
the deluded French people. K. 

6* E 




THE Incarnation exhibits to us the Sovereign of Heaven 
among shepherds; him who hurls the thunderbolt, wrapped in 
swaddling-clothes; him whom the heavens cannot contain, con 
fined in the womb of a virgin. Oh, how antiquity would have 
expatiated in praise of this wonder ! What pictures would a 
Homer or a Virgil have left us of the Son of God in a manger, 
of the songs of the shepherds, of the Magi conducted by a star, 
of the angels descending in the desert, of a virgin mother ador 
ing her new-born infant, and of all this mixture of innocence, 
enchantment, and grandeur! 

Setting aside what is direct and sacred in our mysteries, we 
would still discover under their veils the most beautiful truths in 
nature. These secrets of heaven, apart from their mystical 
character, are perhaps the prototype of the moral and physical 
laws of the world. The hypothesis is well worthy the glory of 
God, and would enable us to discern why he has been pleased 
to manifest himself in these mysteries rather than in any other 
mode. Jesus Christ, for instance, (or the moral world,) in 
taking our nature upon him, teaches us the prodigy of the phy 
sical creation, and represents the universe framed in the bosom 
of celestial love. The parables and the figures of this mystery 
then become engraved upon every object around us. Strength, 
in fact, universally proceeds from grace; the river issues from 
the spring; the lion is first nourished with milk like that which is 
sucked by the lamb; and lastly, among mankind, the Almighty has 
promised ineffable glory to those who practise the humblest virtues. 

They who see nothing in the chaste Queen of angels but an 
obscure mystery are much to be pitied. What touching thoughts 
are suggested by that mortal woman, become the immortal 
mother of a Saviour-God ! What might not be said of Mary, 
who is at once a virgin and a mother, the two most glorious cha 
racters of woman ! of that youthful daughter of ancient Israel, 


who presents herself for the relief of hum&.n suffering, and sacri 
fices a son for the salvation of her paternal race ! This tender 
mediatrix between us and the Eternal, with a heart full of com 
passion for our miseries, forces us to confide in her maternal 
aid, and disarms the vengeance of Heaven. What an enchant 
ing dogma, that allays the terror of a God by causing beauty to 
intervene between our nothingness and his Infinite Majesty ! 

The anthems of the Church represent the Blessed Mary seated 
upon a pure-white throne, more dazzling than the snow. We 
there behold her arrayed in splendor, as a mystical rose, or as the 
morning-star, harbinger of the Sun of grace : the brightest an 
gels wait upon her, while celestial harps and voices form a 
ravishing concert around her. In that daughter of humanity we 
behold the refuge of sinners, the comforter of the afflicted, who, 
all good, all compassionate, all indulgent, averts from us the anger 
of the Lord. 

Mary is the refuge of innocence, of weakness, and of misfor 
tune. The faithful clients that crowd our churches to lay their 
homage at her feet are poor mariners who have escaped ship 
wreck under her protection, aged soldiers whom she has saved 
from death in the fierce hour of battle, young women whose 
bitter griefs she has assuaged. The mother carries her babe be 
fore her image, and this little one, though it knows not as yet 
the God of Heaven, already knows that divine mother who holds 
an infant in her arms. 



IP the mysteries overwhelm the mind by their greatness, we 
experience a different kind of astonishment, but perhaps not less 
profound, when we contemplate the sacraments of the Church. 
The whole knowledge of man, in his civil and moral relations, is 
implied in these institutions. 


Baptism is the first of the sacraments which religion confers 
upon man, and, in the language of the apostle, clothes him with 
Jesus Christ. This sacred rite reminds us of the corruption in 
which we were born, of the pangs that gave us birth, of the 
tribulations which await us in this world. It teaches us that our 
sins will recoil upon our children, and that we are all sureties for 
eao> other an awful lesson, which alone would suffice, if duly 
pondered, to establish the empire of virtue among men. 

Behold the new convert standing amid the waves of Jordan ! 
the hermit of the rock pours the lustral water upon his head ; 
while the patriarchal river, the camels on its banks, the temple 
of Jerusalem, and the cedars of Libanus, seem to be arrested by 
the solemn rite. Or, rather, behold the infant child before the 
sacred font! A joyous family surround him; in his behalf they 
renounce sin, and give him the name of his grandfather, which 
is thus renewed by love from generation to generation. Already 
the father hastens to take the child in his arms, and to carry it 
home to his impatient wife, who is counting under her curtains 
each sound of the baptismal bell. The relatives assemble; tears 
of tenderness and of religion bedew every eye; the new name 
of the pretty infant, the ancient appellative of its ancestor, passes 
from mouth to mouth; and every one, mingling the recollections 
of the past with present joys, discovers the fancied resemblance 
of the good old man in the child that revives his memory. Such 
are the scenes exhibited by the sacrament of baptism; but Re 
ligion, ever moral and ever serious, even when the most cheerful 
smile irradiates her countenance, shows us also the son of a king, 
in his purple mantle, renouncing the pomps of Satan at the same 
font where the poor man s child appears in tatters, to abjure those 
vanities of the world which it will never know. 1 

We find in St. Ambrose a curious description of the manner 
in which the sacrament of baptism was administered in the first 
ages of the Church. 3 Holy Saturday was the day appointed 
for the ceremony. It commenced with touching the nostrils and 

1 That is, the outward pomp of this world; but the poor as well as the rich 
must renounce all inordinate aspiration after the vain show of this world. T. 

2 Ambr., de Myst. Tertullian, Origen, St. Jerome, and St. Augustin, speak 
less in detail of this ceremony than St. Ambrose. The triple immersion and 
the touching of the nostrils, to which we allude here, are mentioned in the six 
books on the Sacraments which are falsely attributed to this father. 


opening the ears of the catechumen, t -e person officiating at the 
same time pronouncing the word epJiplieta, which signifies, be 
opened. He was then conducted into the holy of holies. In 
the presence of the deacon, the priest, and the bishop, he re 
nounced the works of the devil. He turned toward the west, 
the image of darkness, to ahjure the world; and toward the 
east, the emblem of light, to denote his alliance with Jesus 
Christ. The bishop then blessed the water, which, according to 
St. Ambrose, indicated all the mysteries of the Scripture, the 
Creation, the Deluge, the Passage of the Red Sea, the Cloud, 
the Waters of Mara, Naaman, and the Pool of Bethsaida. The 
water having been consecrated by the sign of the cross, the cate 
chumen was immersed in it three times, in honor of the Trinity, 
and to teach him that three things bear witness in baptism water, 
blood, and the Holy Spirit. On leaving the holy of holies, the 
bishop anointed the head of the regenerated man, to signify that 
he was now consecrated as one of the chosen race and priestly 
nation of the Lord. His feet were then washed, and he was 
dressed in white garments, as a type of innocence, after which 
he received, by the sacrament of confirmation, the spirit of di 
vine fear, of wisdom and intelligence, of counsel and strength, 
of knowledge and piety. The bishop then pronounced, with a 
loud voice, the words of the apostle, "God the Father hath 
marked thee with his seal. Jesus Christ our Lord hath confirmed 
thee, and .given to thy heart the earnest of the Holy Ghost/ 
The new Christian then proceeded to the altar to receive the 
bread of angels, saying, "I will go to the altar of the Lord, of 
God who rejoices my youth." At the sight of the altar, covered 
with vessels of gold and silver, with lights, flowers, and silks, the 
new convert exclaimed, with the prophet, "Thou hast spread a 
table for me ; it is the Lord who feeds me ; I shall know no want, 
for he hath placed me in an abundant pasture." The ceremony 
concluded with the celebration of the mass. How august must 
have been the solemnity, at which an Ambrose gave to the inno 
cent poor that place at the table of the Lord which he refused to 
a guilty emperor I 1 

1 Theodosius, by whose command great numbers of the inhabitants of Thes- 
galonica were put to death for an insurrection. For this sanguinary deed, St. 
Ambrose, then bishop of Mjlan, refused to admit him into the Church until ha 


If there be not, in this first act of the life of a Christian, a di 
vine combination of theology and morality, of mystery and sim 
plicity, never will there be in religion any thing divine. 

But, considered in a higher relation, and as a type of the mys 
tery of our redemption, baptism is a bath which restores to the 
soul its primeval vigor. We cannot recall to mind without deep 
regret the beauty of those ancient times, when the forests were 
not silent enough, nor the caverns sufficiently solitary, for the be 
lievers who repaired thither to meditate on the mysteries of reli 
gion. Those primitive Christians, witnesses of the renovation of 
the world, were occupied with thoughts of a very different kind 
from those which now bend us down to the earth, us Christians 
who have grown old in years, but not in faith. In those times, wis 
dom had her seat amid rocks and in the lion s den, and kings 
went forth to consult the anchorite of the mountain. Days too 
soon passed away ! There is no longer a St. John in the desert, nor 
will there be poured out again upon the new convert those waters 
of the Jordan which carried off all his stains to the bosom of 
the ocean. 

Baptism is followed by confession; and the Church, with a 
prudence peculiar to her, has fixed the time for the reception of 
this sacrament at the age when a person becomes capable of sin, 
which is that of seven years. 

All men, not excepting philosophers themselves, whatever may 
have been their opinions on other subjects, have considered the 
sacrament of penance as one of the strongest barriers against vice, 
and as a master-piece of wisdom. " How many restitutions and 
reparations/ says Rousseau, "does not confession produce among 
Catholics!" 1 According to Voltaire, "confession is a most excel 
lent expedient, a bridle to guilt, invented in the remotest anti 
quity : it was practised at the celebration of all the ancient mys 
teries. We have imitated and sanctified this wise custom, which 
has a great influence in prevailing on hearts burning with resent 
ment to forgive one another." 2 

had performed a canonical penance. The emperor having remonstrated, and 
cited the example of King David, who had committed murder and adultery, 
the Saint answered, "As you have imitated him in his crime, imitate him in 
his penance." Upon which Theodosius humbly submitted. T. 

1 JEmil.y tome iii. p. 201, note. 

* Quest. Encyclop., tome iii. p. 234, under the head Cure de Campagne, sect. ii. 


Without this salutary institution, the sinner would sink into 
despair. Into what bosom could he unburden his heart ? Into 
that of a friend ? Ah ! who can rely upon the friendship of men ? 
Will he make the desert his confidant? The desert would inces 
santly reverberate in the guilty ear the sound of those trumpets 
which Nero fancied he heard around the tomb of his mother. 1 
When nature and our fellow-creatures show no mercy, how de 
lightful is it to find the Almighty ready to forgive! To the 
Christian religion alone belongs the merit of having made two 
sisters of Innocence and Repentance. 




AT the age of twelve years, and in the gay season of spring, 
the youth is admitted for the first time to a union with his God. 
After having wept with the mountains of Sion over the death of 
the world s Redeemer, after having commemorated the darkness 
which covered the earth on that tragic occasion, Christendom 
throws aside her mourning; the bells commence their merry 
peals, the images of the saints are unveiled, and the domes of 
the churches re-echo with the song of joy with the ancient alle 
luia of Abraham and of Jacob. Tender virgins clothed in white, 
and boys bedecked with foliage, march along a path strewed with 
the first flowers of the year, and advance toward the temple of 
religion, chanting new canticles, and followed by their overjoyed 
parents. Soon the heavenly victim descends upon the altar for 
the refreshment of those youthful hearts. The bread of angels 
is laid upon the tongue as yet unsullied by falsehood, while the 
priest partakes, under the species of wine, of the blood of the im 
maculate Lamb. 

In this solemn ceremony, God perpetuates the memory of a, 
bloody sacrifice by the most peaceful symbols. With the immea 
surable heights of these mysteries are blended the recollection 

1 Tacit., Hist. 


of the most pleasing scenes. Nature seems to revive with her 
Creator, and the angel of spring opens for her the doors of the 
tomb, like the spirit of light who rolled away the stone from the 
glorious sepulchre. The age of the tender communicants and 
that of the infant year mingle their youth, their harmonies, and 
their innocence. The bread and wine announce the approaching 
maturity of the products of the fields, and bring before us a pic 
ture of agricultural life. In fine, God descends into the souls of 
these young believers to bring forth his chosen fruits, as he de 
scends at this season into the bosom of the earth to make it pro 
duce its flowers and its riches. 

But, you will ask, what signifies that mystic communion, in 
which reason submits to an absurdity, without any advantage to 
the moral man ? To this objection I will first give a general an 
swer, which will apply to all Christian rites : that they exert the 
highest moral influence, because they were practised by our 
fathers, because our mothers were Christians over our cradle, and 
because the chants of religion were heard around the coffins of 
our ancestors and breathed a prayer of peace over their ashes. 

Supposing, however, that the Holy Communion were but a 
puerile ceremony, those persons must be extremely blind who can 
not perceive that a solemnity, which must be preceded by a con 
fession of one s whole life, and can take place only after a long 
series of virtuous actions, is, from its nature, highly favorable to 
morality. It is so to such a degree, that, were a man to partake 
worthily but once a month of the sacrament of the Eucharist, that 
man must of necessity be the most virtuous person upon earth 
Transfer this reasoning from the individual to society in general, 
from one person to a whole nation, and you will find that the Holy 
Communion constitutes a complete system of legislation. 

"Here then are people," says Voltaire, an authority which will 
not be suspected, "who partake of the communion amid an 
august ceremony, by the light of a hundred tapers, after solemn 
music which has enchanted their senses, at the foot of an altur 
resplendent with gold. The imagination is subdued and the 
soul powerfully affected. We scarcely breathe; we forget all 
earthly considerations : we are united with God and he is incor 
porated with us. Who durst, who could, after this, be guilty of 
a single crime, or only conceive the idea of one? It would 


indeed be impossible to devise & mystery capable of keeping men 
more effectually within the bounds of virtue." 1 

The Eucharist was instituted at the last supper of Christ with 
his disciples; and we call to our aid the pencil of the artist, to 
express the beauty of the picture in which he is represented pro 
nouncing the words, This is my Itody. Four things here require 

First, In the material bread and wine we behold the conse 
cration of the food of man, which comes from God, and which 
we receive from his bounty. Were there nothing more in the 
Communion than this offering of the productions of the earth to 
him who dispenses them, that alone would qualify it to be com 
pared with the most excellent religious customs of Greece. 

Secondly, The Eucharist reminds us of the Passover of the Is 
raelites, which carries us back to the time of the Pharaohs; it 
announces the abolition of bloody sacrifices; it represents also the 
calling of Abraham, and the first covenant between God and man. 
Every thing grand in antiquity, in history, in legislation, in the 
sacred types, is therefore comprised in the communion of the 

Thirdly, The Eucharist announces the reunion of mankind 
into one great family. It inculcates the cessation of enmities, 
natural equality, and the commencement of a new law, which 
will make no distinction of Jew or Gentile, but invites all the 
children of Adam to sit down at the same table. 

Fourthly, The great wonder of the Holy Eucharist is the real 
presence of Christ under the consecrated species. Here the soul 
must transport itself for a moment to that intellectual world 
which was open to man before the fall. 

When the Almighty had created him to his likeness, and ani 
mated him with the breath of life, he made a covenant with him. 
Adam and his Creator conversed together in the solitude of the 
garden. The covenant was necessarily broken by the disobedi 
ence of the father of men. The Almighty could no longer com 
municate with death, or spirituality with matter. Now, be 
tween two things of different properties there cannot be a point 

1 Questions sur VEncy^.opedie^ tome iv. Were we to express ourselves as 
>rcibly as Voltaire here does, we would be looked upon as a fanatic. 


of contact except by means of something intermediate. The firsl 
effort which divine love made to draw us nearer to itself, was in 
the calling of Abraham and the institution of sacrifices types 
announcing to the world the coming of the Messiah. The Sa 
viour, when he restored us to the ends of our creation, as we 
have observed on the subject of the redemption, reinstated us in 
our privileges, and the highest of those privileges undoubtedly 
was to communicate with our Maker. But this communication 
could no longer take place immediately, as in the terrestrial para 
dise: in the first place, because our origin remained polluted; 
and in the second, because the body, now an heir of death, is too 
weak to survive a direct communication with God. A medium 
was therefore required, and this medium the Son has furnished. 
He hath given himself to man in the Eucharist; he hath become 
the sublime way by which we are again united with Iliui from 
whom our souls have emanated. 

But if the Son had remained in his primitive essence, it is evi 
dent that the same separation would have continued to exist here 
below between God and man; since there can be no union be 
tween purity and guilt, between an eternal reality and the dream 
of human life. But the Word condescended to assume our na 
ture and to become like us. On the one hand he is united to 
his Father by his spirituality, and on the other, to our flesh by 
his humanity. He is therefore the required medium of approxi 
mation between the guilty child and the compassionate Father. 
Represented by the symbol of bread, he is a sensible object to the 
corporeal eye, while he continues an intellectual object to the eye 
of the soul; and if he has chosen bread for this purpose, it is be 
cause the material which composes it is a noble and pure emblem 
of the divine nourishment. 

If this sublime and mysterious theology, a few outlines only 
of which we are attempting to trace, should displease any of our 
readers, let them but remark how luminous are our metaphysics 
when compared with the system of Pythagoras, Plato, Timoeus, 
Aristotle, and Epicurus. Here they meet with none of those 
abstract ideas for which it is necessary to create a language unin 
telligible to the mass of mankind. 

To sum up what we have said on this subject, we see, in the 
first place, that the Holy Communion displays a beautiful ceieino- 


trial ; that it inculcates morality, because purity of heart is essen 
tial in those who partake of it ; that it is an offering of the pro 
duce of the earth to the Creator, and that it commemorates the 
sublime and affecting history of the Sou of man. Combined 
with the recollection of the Passover and of the first covenant, it 
is lost in the remoteness of time ; it reproduces the earliest ideas 
of man, in his religious and political character, and denotes the 
original equality of the human race. Finally, it comprises the 
mystical history of the family of Adam, their fall, their restora 
tion, and their reunion with God. 



Celibacy considered under its Moral Aspect. 

IN considering the period of life which religion has fixed for 
the nuptials of man and his Creator, we find a subject of per 
petual wonder. At the time when the fire of the passions is 
about to be kindled in the heart, and the mind is sufficiently 
capable of knowing God, he becomes the ruling spirit of the 
youth, pervading all the faculties of his soul in its now restless 
and expanded state. But dangers multiply as he advances ; a 
stranger cast without experience upon the perilous ways of the 
world, he has need of additional helps. At this crisis religion does 
not forget her child: she has her reinforcements in reserve. 
Confirmation will support his trembling steps, like the staff in the 
hands of the traveller, or like those sceptres which passed from 
race to race among the royal families of antiquity, and on which 
Evander and Nestor, pastors of men, reclined while judging their 
people. Let it be observed that all the morality of life is implied 
in the sacrament of Confirmation; because whoever has the 
courage to confess God will necessarily practise virtue, as the 
commission of crime is nothing but the denial of the Creator. 


The same wise spirit has been displayed in placing the sacra 
ments of Holy Orders and Matrimony immediately after that of 
Confirmation. The child has now become a man, and religion, 
that watched over him with tender solicitude in the state of na 
ture, will not abandon him in the social sphere. How profound 
are the views of the Christian legislator! He has established 
only two social sacraments, if we may be allowed this expression, 
because, in reality, there are but two states in life celibacy and 
marriage. Thus, without regard to the civil distinctions invented 
by our short-sighted reason, Jesus Christ divided society into two 
classes, and decreed for them, not political, but moral laws, acting 
in this respect in accordance with all antiquity. The old sages 
of the East, who have- acquired such a wide-spread fame, did not 
call men together at random to hatch Utopian constitutions. They 
were venerable solitaries, who had travelled much, and who cele 
brated with the lyre the remembrance of the gods. Laden with 
the rich treasure of information derived from their intercourse 
with foreign nations, and still richer by the virtues which they 
practised, those excellent men appeared before the multitude 
with the lute in hand, their hoary locks encircled with a golden 
crown, and, seating themselves under the shade of the plane- 
tree, they delivered their lessons to an enchanted crowd. What 
were the institutions of an Amphion, a Cadmus, an Orpheus ? 
They consisted in delightful music called Idio, in the dance, the 
hymn, the consecrated tree ; they were exhibited in youth under 
the guidance of old age, in matrimonial faith plighted near a 
grave. Religion and God were everywhere. Such are the scenes 
which Christianity also exhibits, but with much stronger claims 
to our admiration. 

Principles, however, are always a subject of disagreement 
among men, and the wisest institutions have met with opposition. 
Thus, in modern times, the vow of celibacy which accompanies 
the reception of Holy Orders has been denounced in *no mea 
sured terms. Some, availing themselves of every means of as 
sailing religion, have imagined that they placed her in opposition 
to herself by contrasting her present discipline with the ancient 
practice of the Church, which, according to them, permitted the 
marriage of the clergy. Others have been content with making 
the chastity of the priesthood the object of their raillery. Let 


us examine, first, the views of those who have assailed it with 
seriousness and on the ground of morality. 

By the seventh canon of the second Council of Lateran, 1 held 
in 1139, the celibacy of the clergy was definitely established, in 
accordance with the regulations of previous synods, as those of 
Lateran in 1123, Trosle in 909, Tribur in 895, Toledo in 633, and 
Chalcedon in 451. 2 Baronius shows that clerical celibacy was in 
force generally from the sixth century. 3 The first Council of 
Tours excommunicated any priest, deacon, or sub-deacon, who 
returned to his wife after the reception of Holy Orders. From 
the time of St. Paul, virginity was considered the more perfect 
state for a Christian. 

But, were we to admit that marriage was allowed among the 
clergy in the early ages of the Church, which cannot be shown 
either from history or from ecclesiastical legislation, it would not 
follow that it would be expedient at the present day. Such an 
innovation would be at variance with the manners of our times, 
and, moreover, would lead to the total subversion of ecclesiastical 

In the primitive days of religion, a period of combats and 
triumphs, the followers of Christianity, comparatively few in 
number and adorned with every virtue, lived fraternally together, 
and shared the same joys and the same tribulations at the table 
of the Lord. We may conceive, therefore, that a minister of 
religion might, strictly speaking, have been permitted to have a 
family amid this perfect society, which was already the domestic 
circle for him. His own children, forming a part of his flock, 
would not have diverted him from the attentions due to the re 
mainder of his charge, nor would they have exposed him to betray 
the confidence of the sinner, since in those days there were no 
crimes to be concealed, the confession of them being made pub 
licly in those basilics of the dead where the faithful assembled 
to pray over the ashes of the martyrs. The Christians of that 
age had received from heaven a spirit which we have lost. They 

1 This was the tenth general council, at which one thousand bishops were 
present. T. 

2 The fourth general council, numbering between five and six hundred 
bishops. T. 

3 Baron., An. 88, No. 18. 



formed not so much a popular assembly as a community of Levites 
and religious women. Baptism had made them all priests and 
confessors of Jesus Christ. 

St. Justin the philosopher, in his first Apology, has given ua 
an admirable description of the Christian life in those times. 
We are accused," he says, " of disturbing the tranquillity of the 
state, while we are taught by one of the principal articles of our 
faith that nothing is hidden to the eye of God, and that he will 
one day take a strict account of our good and evil deeds. But, 
powerful Emperor, the very punishments which you have de 
creed against us only tend to confirm us in our religion, because 
all this persecution was predicted by our Master, the son of the 
sovereign God, Father and Lord of the universe. 

" On Sunday, those who reside in the town and country meet 
together. The Scriptures are read, after which one of the an 
cients 1 exhorts the people to imitate the beautiful examples that 
have been placed before them. The assembly then rises; prayer 
is again offered up, and water, bread, and wine being presented, 
the officiating minister gives thanks, the others answering Amen. 
A portion of the consecrated elements is now distributed, and the 
rest is conveyed by the deacons to those who are absent. A col 
lection is taken ; the rich giving according to their disposition. 
These alms are placed in the hands of the minister, for the as 
sistance of widows, orphans, sick persons, prisoners, poor people, 
strangers ; in short, all who are in need, and the care of whom 
devolves especially upon the minister. We assemble on Sunday, 
because on that day God created the world, and the same day his 
Son arose to life again, to confirm his disciples in the doctrine 
which we have exposed to you. 

" If you find this doctrine good, show your respect for it; if 
not, reject it. But do not condemn to punishment those who 
commit no crime ; for we declare to you that, if you continue to 
act unjustly, you will not escape the judgment of God. For the 
rest, whatever be our faith, we desire only that the will of God 
be done. We might have claimed your favorable regard in con- 

1 That is, a priest. In the first ages, the word npcffQvrepos or ancient was very 
frequently used to signify a bishop or priest, set apart by ordination for the 
ministry of the Church : it was afterwards employed solely to designate the 
priestly order. T. 


sequence of the letter of your father, Caesar Adrian, of illustrious 
and glorious memory; but we have preferred to rely solely upon 
the justice of our cause." 

The Apology of Justin was well calculated to take the world 
by surprise ; for it proclaimed a golden age in the midst of a cor 
rupt generation, and pointed out a new people in the catacombs 
of an ancient empire. The Christian life must have appeared 
the more admirable in the public eye, as such perfection had 
never before been known, harmonizing with nature and the laws, 
and on the other band forming a remarkable contrast with the 
rest of society. It is also invested with an interest which is not 
to be found in the fabulous excellence of antiquity, because the 
latter is always depicted in a state of happiness, while the former 
presents itself through the charms of adversity. It is not amid 
the foliage of the woods or at the side of the fountain that virtue 
exerts her greatest power, but under the shade of the prison-wall 
or amid rivers of blood and tears. How divine does religion 
appear to us when, in the recess of the catacomb or in the silent 
darkness of the tomb, we behold a pastor who is surrounded by 
danger, celebrating, by the feeble glare of his lamp and in pre 
sence of his little flock, the mysteries of a persecuted Grod ! 

We have deemed it necessary to establish incontestably this 
high moral character of the first Christians, in order to show that, 
if the marriage of the clergy was considered unbecoming in that 
age of purity, it would be altogether impossible to introduce it at 
the present day. When the number of Christians increased, and 
morality was weakened with the diffusion of mankind, how could 
the priest devote himself at the same time to his family and to 
the Church ? How could he have continued chaste with a spouse 
who had ceased to be so? If our opponents object the prac 
tice of Protestant countries, we will observe that it has been ne 
cessary in those countries to abolish a great portion of the external 
worship of religion ; that a Protestant minister appears in the 
church scarcely two or three times a week ; that almost all spi 
ritual relations have ceased between him and his flock, and that 
very often he is a mere man of the world. 3 As to certain Puri- 

1 Justin, Apoloy., edit. Marc., fol. 1742. See note B. 

8 "It was no trivial misfortune," says Dr. King, "for the cause of Christianity 
in England, that at the period of our separation from popery the clergy were 


tanical sects that affect an evangelical simplicity, and wish to have 
a religion without a worship, we hope that they will be passed 
over in silence. Finally, in those countries where the marriage 
of the clergy is allowed, the confession of sin, which is the most 
admirable of moral institutions, has been, and must necessarily 
have been, discontinued. It cannot be supposed that the Chris 
tian would confide the secrets of his heart to a man who has 
already made a woman the depositary of his own ; and he would, 
with reason, fear to make a confidant of him who has proved 
faithless to God, and has repudiated the Creator to espouse the 

We will now answer the objection drawn from the general law 
of population. It seems to us that one of the first natural laws 
that required abrogation at the commencement of the Christian 
era, was that which encouraged population beyond a certain limit. 
The age of Jesus Christ was not that of Abraham. The latter 
appeared at a time when innocence prevailed and the earth was 
but sparsely inhabited. Jesus Christ, on the contrary, came into 
the midst of a world that was corrupt and thickly settled. Con 
tinence, therefore, may be allowed to woman. The second Eve, 
in curing the evils that had fallen upon the first, has brought 
down virginity from heaven, to give us an idea of the purity and 
joy which preceded the primeval pangs of maternity. 

The Legislator of the Christian world was born of a virgin, 
and died a virgin. Did he not wish thereby to teach us, in a 
political and natural point of view, that the earth had received 
its complement of inhabitants, and that the ratio of generation, 

allowed to marry; for, as might have been foreseen, our ecclesiastics since that 
time have occupied themselves solely with their wives and their children. The 
dignitaries of the Church could easily provide for their families with the aid of 
their large revenues ; but the inferior clergy, unable with their slender incomes 
to establish their children in the world, soon spread over the kingdom swarms 

of mendicants As a member of the republic of letters, I have often 

desired the re-enactment of the canons that prohibited marriage among the 
clergy. To episcopal celibacy we are indebted for all the magnificent grants 
that distinguish our two universities : but since the period of the Reformation 
those two seats of learning have had few benefactors among the members of the 
hierarchy. If the rich donations of Laud and Sheldon have an eternal claim 
to our gratitude, it must be remembered that these two prelates wore never 
married," <fcc. Political and Literary Anecdotes, Ac., Edinburgh Review, July, 
1819. T. 


far from being extended, should be restricted ? In support of 
this opinion, we may remark that states never perish from a want, 
but from an excess, of population, The barbarians of the North 
spread devastation over the globe when their forests became 
overcrowded ; and Switzerland has been compelled to transfer a 
portion of her industrious inhabitants to other countries, as she 
pours forth her abundant streams to render them productive. 
Though the number of laborers has been greatly diminished in 
France, the cultivation of the soil was never more flourishing 
than at the present time. Alas ! we resemble a swarm of insects 
buzzing around a cup of wormwood into which a few drops of 
honey have accidentally fallen ; we devour each other as soon as 
our numbers begin to crowd the spot that we occupy ! By a still 
greater misfortune, the more we increase, the more land we re 
quire to satisfy our wants ; and as this space is always diminish 
ing, while the passions are extending their sway, the most fright 
ful revolutions must, sooner or later, be the consequence. 1 

Theories, however, have little weight in the presence of facts. 
Europe is far from being a desert, though the Catholic clergy 
within her borders have taken the vow of celibacy. Even mo 
nasteries are favorable to society, by the good management of the 
religious, who distribute their commodities at home, and thus 
afford abundant relief to the poor. Where but in the neighbor 
hood of some rich abbey, did we once behold in Fiance the com 
fortably dressed husbandman, and laboring people whose joyful 
countenances betokened their happy condition ? Large possessions 
always produce this effect in the hands of wise and resident 
proprietors; and such precisely was the character of our monastic 
domains. But this subject would lead us too far. We shall return 
to it in treating of the religious orders. We will remark, how 
ever, that the clergy have been favorable to the increase of popu 
lation, by preaching concord and union between man and wife, 
checking the progress of libertinism, and visiting with the de 
nunciations of the Church the crimes which the people of the 
cities directed to the diminution of children. 

There can be no doubt that every great nation has need of 
men who, separated from the rest of mankind, invested with some 

1 Note C. 


august character, and free from the encumbrances of wife, children, 
and other worldly affairs, may labor effectually for the advance 
ment of knowledge, the improvement of morals, and the relief 
of human suffering. What wonders have not our priests and 
religious accomplished in these three respects for the good of 
society ? But place them in charge of a family : would not the 
learning and charity which they have consecrated to their country 
be turned to the profit of their relatives ? Happy, indeed, if by 
this change their virtue were not transformed into vice ! 

Having disposed of the objections which moralists urge against 
clerical celibacy, we shall endeavor to answer those of the poets ; 
but for this purpose it will be necessary to employ other argu 
ments, to adduce other authorities, and to write in a different 



MOST of the sages of antiquity led a life of celibacy ; and the 
Grymnosophists, the Brahmins, and the Druids, held chastity in 
the highest ^onor. Even among savage tribes it is invested 
with a heavenly character; because in all ages and countries there 
has prevailed but one opinion respecting the excellence of vir 
ginity. Among the ancients, priests and priestesses, who were 
supposed to commune intimately with heaven, were obliged to 
live as solitaries, and the least violation of their vows was visited 
with a signal punishment. They offered in sacrifice only the 
heifer that had never been a mother. The loftiest and most 
attractive characters in mythology were virgins. Such were 
Venus, Urania, and Minerva, goddesses of genius and wisdom, 
and Friendship, who was represented as a young maiden. Vir 
ginity herself was personified as the moon, and paraded her mys 
terious modesty amid the refreshing atmosphere of night. 

Virginity is not less amiable, considered in its various other 
relations. In the three departments of nature, it is the source 
of grace and the perfection of beauty. The poets whom we are 


now seeking to convince will readily admit what we say. Do they 
not themselves introduce everywhere the idea of virginity, as 
lending a charm to their descriptions and representations ? Do 
they not find it in the forest-scene, in the vernal rose, in the 
winter s snow ? and do they not thus station it at the two extre 
mities of life on the lips of childhood and the gray locks of 
aged man ? Do they not also blend it with the mysteries of the 
tomb, telling us of antiquity that consecrated to the manes seed 
less trees, because death is barren, or because in the next life 
there is no distinction of sex, and the soul is an immortal virgin ? 
Finally, do they not tell us that the irrational animals which ap 
proach the nearest to human intelligence are those devoted to 
chastity? Do we not seem, in fact, to recognise in the bee-hive 
the model of those monasteries, where vestals are busily engaged 
in extracting a celestial honey from the flowers of virtue ? 

In the fine arts, virginity is again the charm, and the Muses 
owe to it their perpetual youth. But it displays its excellence 
chiefly in man. St. Ambrose has composed three treatises on 
virginity, in which he has scattered with a profuse hand the 
ornaments of style, his object, as he informs us, being to gain 
the attention of virgins by the sweetness of his words. 1 He 
terms virginity an exemption from every stain, and shows that 
the tranquillity which attends it is far superior to the cares of 
matrimonial life. He addresses the virgin in these words : "The 
modesty which tinges your cheeks renders you exceedingly beau 
tiful. Retired far from the sight of men, like the rose in some 
solitary spot, your charms form not the subject of their false 
surmises. Nevertheless, you are still a competitor for the prize 
of beauty; not that indeed which falls under the eye, but the 
beauty of virtue that beauty which no sickness can disfigure, 
no age can diminish, and not death itself can take away. God 
alone is the umpire in this rivalry of virgins, because he loves 

the beautiful soul, even in a body that is deformed 

A virgin is the gift of heaven and the joy of her family. She 
exercises under the paternal roof the priesthood of chastity; she 
is a victim daily immolated for her mother at the altar of filial 
piety." 3 

De Virgin., lib. ii. ch. 1. 2 ibid., lib. i. ch. 5. 


In man, virginity assumes the character of sublimity. When, 
in the fierce rebellion of the passions, it resists the invitation to 
evil, it becomes a celestial virtue. "A chaste heart/ says St. 
Bernard, " is by virtue what an angel is by nature. There is 
more felicity in the purity of the angel, but there is more courage 
in that of the man." In the religious, virginity transforms itself 
into humanity : witness the fathers of the Redemption and the 
orders of Hospitallers, consecrated to the relief of human misery 
The learned man it inspires with the love of study; the hermit 
with that of contemplation : in all it is a powerful principle, 
whose beneficial influence is always felt in the labors of the mind, 
and hence it is the most excellent quality of life, since it imparts 
fresh vigor to the soul, which is the nobler part of our nature. 

But if chastity is necessary in any state, it is chiefly so in the 
service of the divinity. "God," as Plato observes, "is the true 
standard of things, and we should make every effort to resemble 
him." He who ministers at his altar is more strictly obliged to 
this than others. "The question here," says St. Chrysostom, "is 
not the government of an empire or the command of an army, 
but the performance of functions that require an angelic virtue , 
The soul of the priest should be purer than the rays of the sun." 
"The Christian minister," adds St. Jerome, "is the interpreter 
between God and man." The priest, therefore, must be a divine 
personage. An air of holiness and mystery should surround him. 
Retired within the sacred gloom of the temple, let him be heard 
without being perceived by those without. Let his voice, solemn, 
grave, and religious, announce the prophetic word or chant the 
hymn of peace in the holy recesses of the tabernacle. Let his 
visits among men be transient ; and if he appear amid the bustle 
of the world, let it be only to render a service to the unhappy." 

It is on these conditions that the priest will enjoy the respect 
and confidence of his people. But he will soon forfeit both if he 
be seen in the halls of the rich, if he be encumbered with a wife, 
if he be too familiar in society, if he betray faults which are 
condemned in the world, or if he lead those around him to sus 
pect for a moment that he is a man like other men. 

Chastity in old age is something superhuman. Priam, ancient 
as mount Ida and hoary as the oak of Gargarus, surrounded in 
his palace by his fifty sens, presents a nolle type of paternity; 


but Plato without wife and children, seated on the steps of a 
temple at the extremity of a cape lashed by the waves, and there 
lecturing to his disciples on the existence of God, exhibits a far 
more elevated character. He belongs not to the earth ; he seems 
to be one of those spirits or higher intelligences of whom he 
speaks in his writings. 

Thus, virginity, ascending from the last link in the chain of 
beings up to man, soon passes from man to the angels, and from 
the angels to God, in whom it is absorbed. God reigns in a glory 
unique, inimitable in the eternal firmament, as the sun, his 
image, shines with unequalled splendor in the visible heavens. 

We may conclude, that poets and men even of the most refined 
taste can make no reasonable objection to the celibacy of the 
priesthood, since virginity is among the cherished recollections of 
the past, is one of the charms of friendship, is associated with 
the solemn thought of the tomb, with the innocence of child 
hood, with the enchantment of youth, with the charity of the 
religious, with the sanctity of the priest and of old age, and with 
the divinity in the angels and in God himself. 



EUROPE owes also to Christianity the few good laws which it 
possesses. There is not, perhaps, a single contingency in civil 
affairs for which provision has not been made by the canon law, 
the fruit of the experience of fifteen centuries and of the genius 
of the Innocents and the Gregories. The wisest emperors and 
kings, as Charlemagne and Alfred the Great, were of opinion 
that they could not do better than to introduce into the civil code 
a part of this ecclesiastical code, which contains the essence of 
the Levitical law, the gospel, and the Roman jurisprudence. 
What an edifice is the Church of Christ ! How vast ! how 
wonderful ! 

In elevating marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, JCSUP 



Christ has shown us, in the first place, the great symbol of his 
union with the Church. When we consider that matrimony is 
the axis on which the whole social economy revolves, can we 
suppose it to be ever sufficiently sacred, or too highly admire the 
wisdom of him who has stamped it with the seal of religion ? 

The Church has made every provision for so important a step 
in life. She has determined the degrees of relationship within 
which matrimony is allowable. The canon law, 1 which determines 
the degree of consanguinity by the number of generations from 
the parent stock, has forbidden marriage within the fourth gene 
ration ; while the civil law, following a double mode of computa 
tion, formerly prohibited it only within the second degree. Such 
was the Arcadian law, as inserted in the Institutes of Justinian. 9 
But the Church, with her accustomed wisdom, has been governed 
in this by the gradual improvement of popular manners. 3 In the 
first ages of Christianity, marriage was forbidden within the 
seventh degree of consanguinity; and some Councils, as that of 
Toledo in the sixth century, prohibited without exception all 
alliances between members of the same family. 4 

The spirit that dictated these laws is worthy of the pure reli 
gion which we profess. The pagan world was far from imitating 
this chastity of the Christian people. At Rome, marriage was 
permitted between cousins-german ; and Claudius, in order to 
marry Agrippina, enacted a law which allowed an uncle to form 
an alliance with his niece. 5 By the laws of Solon, a brother could 
marry his sister by the mother s side. 8 

i Concil. Lat., an. 1205 2 De Nupt, tit. 10 

3 Concil. Duziac., an. 814. The canon law was necessarily modified according 
to the manners of the different nations Goths, Vandals, English, Franks, Bur- 
gundians who entered successively into the Church. 

4 Can. 5. 

5 Suet., in Claud. It should be observed that this law did not become gene 
ral, as we learn from the Fragments of Ulpian, tit. 5 and 6, and that it was re 
pealed by the code of Theodosius, as well as that relating to cousins-german. 
In the Christian Church the pope has the power to dispense from the canon 
law, according to circumstances : a very wise provision, since no law can be so 
universally applicable as to comprehend every case. As to the regulation under 
the Old Testament regarding marriage between brothers and sisters, it belonged 
to the general law of population, which, as we have observed, was abolished at 
the coming of Christ, when the different races of men had received their com 
plement 6 ^lut., in Sol. 


The Church, however, did not confine her precautions to the 
above-mentioned legislation. For some time she followed the 
Levitical law in regard to those who were related by affinity; but 
subsequently she numbered among the nullifying impediments 
of marriage, all the degrees of affinity corresponding to the degrees 
of consanguinity within which marriage is prohibited. 1 She 
also provided for a case which had escaped the notice of all pre 
vious jurisprudence that of a man guilty of illicit intercourse 
with a woman. According to the discipline of the Church, -this 
man cannot marry any woman who is related within the second 
degree to the object of his unlawful love. 2 This law, which had 
existed to a certain extent in the early ages of Christianity, 3 be 
came a settled point by a decree of the Council of Trent, and was 
considered so wise an enactment that the French code, though it 
rejected the Council as a whole, willingly adopted this particular 

The numerous impediments to marriage between relatives which 
the Church has established, besides being founded on moral and 
spiritual considerations, have a beneficial tendency in a political 
point of view, by encouraging the division of property, and pre 
venting all the wealth of a state from accumulating, in a long 
series of years, in the hands of a few individuals. 

The Church has retained the ceremony of betrothing, which 
may be traced to a remote antiquity. We are informed by Aulus 
Gellius that it was known among the people of Latium :* it was 
adopted by the Romans, 5 and was customary among the Greeks. 
It was honored under the old covenant; and in the new, Joseph 
was betrothed to Mary. The intention of this custom is to allow 
the bride and bridegroom time to become acquainted with each 
other previously to their union. 6 

In our rural hamlets, the ceremony of betrothing was still wit 
nessed with its ancient graces. 7 On a beautiful morning in the 
month of August, a young peasant repaired to the farm-house of 

1 Cone. Lat. 2 Ibid., ch. 4, sess. 24. 3 Cone. Anc., cap. ult, an. 304. 
4 Noct. Att, lib. iv. cap. 4. 5 Lib. ii. ff. de Spons. 

6 St. Augustine, speaking of this usage, says that the bride is not given to 
her lord immediately after the betrothing, " lest he bo inclined to think less 
of one who has not been the object of his prolonged aspirations." 

7 The author uses the past tense, alluding to customs before the French Re 
volution. T. 


his future father-in-law, to join his intended bride. Two musi 
cians, reminding you of the minstrels of old, led the way, playing 
tunes of the days of chivalry, or the hymns of pilgrims. De 
parted ages, issuing from their Gothic tombs, seemed to accom 
pany the village youth with their ancient manners and their 
ancient recollections. The priest pronounced the accustomed 
benediction over the bride, who deposited upon the altar a distaff 
adorned with ribbons. The company then returned to the farm 
house; the lord and lady of the manor, the clergyman of the 
parish, and the village justice, placed themselves, with the young 
couple, the husbandmen and the matrons, round a table, upon 
which were served up the Eumoean boar and the fatted calf of 
the patriarchs. The festivities concluded with a dance in the 
neighboring barn ; the daughter of the lord of the manor took 
the bridegroom for her partner, while the spectators were seated 
upon the newly-harvested sheaves, forcibly reminded of the 
daughters of Jethro, the reapers of Boo*z, and the nuptials of 
Jacob and Rachel. 

The betrothing is followed by the publication of the bans. This 
excellent custom, unknown to antiquity, is altogether of ecclesias 
tical institution. It dates from a period anterior to the fourteenth 
century, as it is mentioned in a decretal of Innocent III., who 
enacted it as a general law at the Council of Lateran. It was re 
newed by the Tridentine Synod, and has since been established 
in France. The design of this practice is to prevent clandestine 
unions, and to discover the impediments to marriage that may 
exist between the contracting parties. 

But at length the Christian marriage approaches. It comes 
attended by a very different ceremonial from that which accom 
panied the betrothing. Its pace is grave and solemn ; its rites 
are silent and august. Man is apprised that he now enters upon 
a new career. The words of the nuptial blessing words which 
God himself pronounced over the first couple in the world fill 
the husband with profound awe, while they announce to him that 
he is performing the most important act of life ; that, like Adam, 
he is about to become the head of a family, and to take upon him 
self the whole burden of humanity. The wife receives a caution 
equally impressive. The image of pleasure vanishes before that 
of her duties. A voice seenis to issue from the altar, and to ad- 


dress her in these words : " Knowest thou, Eve, what thou art 
doing ? Knowest thou that there is no longer any liberty for thee 
but that of the tomb ? Knowest thou what it. is to bear in thy 
mortal womb an immortal being, formed in the image of God?" 

Among the ancients, the hymeneal rites were a ceremony replete 
with licentiousness and clamorous mirth, which suggested none 
of the serious reflections that marriage inspires. Christianity 
alone has restored its dignity. 

Religion also, discovering before philosophy the proportion in 
which the two sexes are born, first decreed that a man should 
have but one wife, and that their union should be indissoluble 
till death. Divorce is unknown in the Catholic Church, except 
among some minor nations of Illyria, who were formerly subject to 
the Venetian government, and who follow the Greek rite. 1 If the 
passions of men have revolted against this law, if they have not 
perceived the confusion which divorce introduces into the family, 
by disturbing the order of succession, by alienating the paternal 
affections, by corrupting the heart and converting marriage into 
a civil prostitution, we cannot hope that the few words which we 
have to offer will produce any effect. Without entering deeply 
into the subject, we shall merely observe, that if by divorce you 
think to promote the happiness of the married couple, (and this 
is now the main argument,) you lie under a strange mistake. 
That man who has not been the comfort of a first wife, who could 
not attach himself to the virginal heart and first maternity of his 
lawful spouse, who has not been able to bend his passions to the 
domestic yoke, or to confine his heart to the nuptial couch, that 
man will never confer felicity on a second wife. Neither will he 
himself be a gainer by the exchange. What he takes for differ 
ences of temper between himself and the wife to whom he is 

1 By a departure from the tradition and practice of the Church, and a pre 
ference for the concessions of the civil code, it had become the custom in these 
countries not only to allow divorce a mensa el thoro in cases of adultery, but 
also to permit the parties to marry again. The Council of Trent was on the 
point of condemning those who hold that marriage is dissolved quoad vin- 
culum by the crime of adultery ; but, for reasons of expediency, the canon on 
this subject was so framed as not to stigmatize them with the note of heresy. 
See Tournely, De Matr., p. 394 ; Archbp. Kenrick, Theol. Dogm., vol. iv. p. 120 ; 
Biblioth. Sacree,tome xvi. art. Mariage ; Waterworth s Canon* and Decrees of 
Counc. of Trent, p. 228, &c. T. 


united, is but the impulse of an inconstant disposition and the 
restlessness of desire. Habit and length of time are more neces 
sary to happiness, and even to love, than may be imagined. A 
man is not happy in the object of his attachment till he has 
passed many days, and, above all, many days of adversity, in her 
company. They ought to be acquainted with the most secret 
recesses of each other s soul; the mysterious veil with which 
husband and wife were covered in the primitive Church, must be 
lifted up in all its folds for them, while to the eye of others it 
remains impenetrable. What ! for the slightest pretence or ca 
price must I be liable to lose my partner and my children, and 
renounce the pleasing hope of passing my old age in the bosom 
of my family ? Let me not be told that this apprehension will 
oblige me to be a better husband. No ; we become attached to 
that good only of which we are certain, and set but little value 
on a possession of which we are likely to be deprived. 

Let us not give to matrimony the wings of lawless love; let us 
not transform a sacred reality into a fleeting phantom. There is 
something which will again destroy your happiness in your tran- 
cient connections : you will be pursued by remorse. You will be 
continually comparing one wife with another, her whom you have 
lost with her whom you have found ; and, believe me, the balance 
will always be in favor of the former. Thus has God formed the 
heart of man. This disturbance of one sentiment by another 
will poison all your pleasures. When you fondly caress your 
new child, you will think of that which you have forsaken. If 
you* press your wife to your heart, your heart will tell you 
that it is not the bosom of the first. Every thing tends to 
unity in man. He is not happy if he divides his affections ; 
and like God, in whose image he was created, his soul inces 
santly seeks to concentrate in one point the past, the present, and 
the future. 

These are the remarks which we had to offer on the sacraments 
of Holy Orders and Matrimony. As to the images which they 
suggest to the mind, we deem it unnecessary to present them. 
Where is the imagination that cannot picture to itself the priest 
bidding adieu to the joys of life, that he may devote himself to 
the cause of humanity; or the maiden consecrating herself to the 
silence of retirement, that she may find the silent repose of her 


heart ; or the betrothed couple appearing at the altar of religion, 
to vow to each other an undying love ? 

The wife of a Christian is not a mere mortal. She is an extra 
ordinary, a mysterious, an angelic being ; she is flesh of her hus 
band s flesh and bone of his bone. By his union with her he 
only takes back a portion of his substance. His soul, as well as 
his body, is imperfect without his wife. He possesses strength, she 
has beauty. He opposes the enemy in arms, he cultivates the 
soil of his country ; but he enters not into domestic details ; he 
has need of a wife to prepare his repast and his bed. He encoun 
ters afflictions, and the partner of his nights is there to soothe 
them ; his days are clouded by adversity, but on his couch he 
meets with a chaste embrace and forgets all his sorrows. With 
out woman he would be rude, unpolished, solitary. Woman sus 
pends around him the flowers of life, like those honeysuckles of 
the forest which adorn the trunk of the oak with their perfumed 
garlands. Finally, the Christian husband and his wife live and 
die together ; together they rear the issue of their union ; toge 
ther they return to dust, and together they again meet beyond 
the confines of the tomb, to part no more. 



BUT it is in sight of that tomb, silent vestibule of another 
world, that Christianity displays all its sublimity. If most of 
the ancient religions consecrated the ashes of the dead, none ever 
thought of preparing the soul for that unknown country "from 
whose bourn no traveller returns /" 

Come and witness the most interesting spectacle that earth can 
exhibit. Come and see the faithful Christian expire. He has 
ceased to be a creature of this world : he no longer belongs to his 
native country : all connection between him and society is at an 
end. For him the calculations of time have closed, and he has 
already begun to date from the great era of eternity. A priest, 


seated at his pillow, administers consolation. This minister of 
God cheers the dying man with the bright prospect of immortal 
ity; and that sublime scene which all antiquity exhibited but 
once, in the last moments of its most eminent philosopher, is daily 
renewed on the humble pallet of the meanest Christian that 
expires ! 

At length the decisive moment arrives. A sacrament opened 
to this just man the gates of the world ; a sacrament is about to 
close them. Religion rocked him in the cradle of life; and now 
her sweet song and maternal hand will lull him to sleep in the 
cradle of death. She prepares the baptism of this second birth : 
but mark, she employs not water; she anoints him with oil, em 
blem of celestial incorruptibility. The liberating sacrament gra 
dually loosens the Christian s bonds. His soul, nearly set free from 
the body, is almost visible in his countenance. Already he hears 
the concerts of the seraphim: already he prepares to speed his 
flight to those heavenly regions where Hope, the daughter of 
Virtue and of Death, invites him. Meanwhile, the angel of peace, 
descending toward this righteous man, touches with a golden 
sceptre his weary eyes, and closes them deliciously to the light. 
He dies ; yet his last tngh was inaudible. He expires ; yet, long 
after he is no more, his friends keep silent watch around his 
couch, under the imf ression that he only slumbers : so gently 
did this Christian pass from earth. 





MOST of the ancient philosophers have marked the distinction 
between vices and virtues ; but how far superior in this respect 
also is the wisdom of religion to the wisdom of men ! 

Let us first consider pride alone, which the Church ranks as 
the principal among the vices. Pride was the sin of Satan, the 
first sin that polluted this terrestrial globe. Pride is so com 
pletely the root of evil, that it is intermingled with all the other 
infirmities of our nature. It beams in the smile of envy, it bursts 
forth in the debaucheries of the libertine, it counts the gold of 
avarice, it sparkles in the eyes of anger, it is the companion of 
graceful effeminacy. 

Pride occasioned the fall of Adam ; pride armed Cain against 
his innocent brother ; it was pride that erected Babel and over 
threw Babylon. Through pride Athens became involved in the 
common ruin of Greece ; pride destroyed the throne of Cyrus, 
divided the empire of Alexander, and crushed Rome itself under 
the weight of the universe. 

In the particular circumstances of life, pride produces still 
more baneful effects. It has the presumption to attack even the 
Deity himself. 

Upon inquiring into the causes of atheism, we are led to this 
melancholy observation : that most of those who rebel against 
Heaven imagine that they find something wrong in the constitu 
tion of societj or the order of nature ; excepting, however, the 
young who are seduced by the world, or writei^iWhose only 
object is to attract notice. But how happens it that they who 
are deprived of the inconsiderable advantages which a capricious 

fortune gives or takes away, have not the sense to seek the re- 



mcdy of this trifling evil in drawing near to God? He is the 
great fountainhead of blessing. So truly is he the quintessence 
itself of beauty, that his name alone, pronounced with love, is 
sufficient to impart something divine to the man who is the least 
favored by nature, as has been remarked in the case of Socrates. 
Let atheism be for those who, not having courage enough to rise 
superior to the trials of their lot, display in their blasphemies 
naught but the first vice of man. 

If the Church has assigne^ to pride the first place in the scale 
of human depravity, she has shown no less wisdom in the classi 
fication of the six other capital vices. It must not be supposed 
that the order of their arrangement is arbitrary : we need only 
examine it to perceive that religion, with an admirable discrimi 
nation, passes from those vices which attack society in general to 
such as recoil upon the head of the guilty individual alone. Thus, 
for instance, envy, luxury, avarice and anger, immediately follow 
pride, because they are vices which suppose a foreign object and 
exist only in the midst of society; whereas gluttony and idle 
ness, which come last, are solitary and base inclinations, that 
find in themselves their principal gratification. 

In the estimate and classification of the virtues, we behold the 
same profound knowledge of human nature. Before the coming 
of Jesus Christ the human soul was a chaos; the Word spoke, 
and order instantly pervaded the intellectual world, as the same 
fiat had once produced the beautiful arrangement of the physical 
world : this was the moral creation of the universe. The virtues, 
like pure fires, ascended into the heavens : some, like brilliant 
suns, attracted every eye by their glorious radiance ; others, more 
modest luminaries, appeared only under the veil of night, which, 
however, could not conceal their lustre. From that moment an 
admirable balance between strength and weakness was esta 
blished ; religion hurled all her thunderbolts at Pride, that vice 
which feeds upon the virtues : she detected it in the inmost re 
cesses of the heart, she pursued it in all its changes ; the sacra 
ments, in holy array, were marshalled against it ; *and Humility, 
clothed in j^kcloth, her waist begirt with a cord, her feet bare, 
her head covered with ashes, her downcast eyes swimming in 
tears, became one of the primary virtues of the believer. 

FAITH. 95 



AND what were the virtues so highly recommended oy the 
sages of Greece ? Fortitude, temperance, and prudence. None 
but Jesus Christ could teach the world that faith, hope and 
charity, are virtues alike adapted to the ignorance and the wretch 
edness of man. 

It was undoubtedly a stupendous wisdom that pointed out faith 
to us as the source of all the virtues. There is no power but in 
conviction. If a train of reasoning is strong, a poem divine, a 
picture beautiful, it is because the understanding or the eye, to 
whose judgment they are submitted, is convinced of a certain 
truth hidden in this reasoning, this poem, this picture. What 
wonders a small band of troops persuaded of the abilities of their 
leader is capable of achieving ! Thirty-five thousand Greeks fol 
low Alexander to the conquest of the world ; Lacedsemon com 
mits her destiny to the hands of Lycurgus, and Laeedsemon 
becomes the wisest of cities ; Babylon believes that she is formed 
for greatness, and greatness crowns her confidence; an oracle 
gives the empire of the universe to the Romans, and the Romans 
obtain the empire of the universe; Columbus alone, among all 
his contemporaries, persists in believing the existence of a new 
world, and a new world rises from the bosom of the deep. 
Friendship, patriotism, love, every noble sentiment, is likewise a 
species of faith. Because they had faith, a Codrus, a Pylades, 
a Regulus, an Arria, performed prodigies. For the same reason, 
they who believe nothing, who treat all the convictions of the 
soul as illusions, who consider every noble action as insanity, and 
look with pity upon the warm imagination and tender sensibility 
of genius for the same reason such hearts will never achieve 
any thing great or generous : they have faith only in matter and 
in death, and they are already insensible as the one, and cold and 
icy as the other. 


In the language of ancient chivalry, to pledge one s faith was 
synonymous with all the prodigies of honor. Roland, Duguesclin, 
Bayard, were faithful knights; and the fields of Roncevaux, of 
Auray, of Bresse, the descendants of the Moors, of the English, 
and of the Lombards, still tell what men they were who plighted 
their faith and homage to their God, their lady, and their coun 
try. Shall we mention the martyrs, "who," to use the words of 
St. Ambrose, "without armies, without legions, vanquished ty 
rants, assuaged the fury of lions, took from the fire its vehemence 
and from the sword its edge" ?* Considered in this point of view, 
faith is so formidable a power, that if it were applied to evil pur 
poses it would convulse the world. There is nothing that a man 
who is under the influence of a profound conviction, and who 
submits his reason implicitly to the direction of another, is not 
capable of performing. This proves that the most eminent vir 
tues, when separated from God and taken in their merely moral 
relations, border on the greatest vices. Had philosophers made 
this observation, they would not have taken so much pains to fix 
the limits between good and evil. There was no necessity for the 
Christian lawgiver, like Aristotle, to contrive a scale for the pur 
pose of ingeniously placing a virtue between two vices ; he has 
completely removed the difficulty, by inculcating that virtues are 
not virtues unless they flow back toward their source that is to 
say, toward the Deity. 

Of this truth we shall be thoroughly convinced, if we consider 
faith in reference to human affairs, but a faith which is the off 
spring of religion. From faith proceed all the virtues of society, 
since it is true, according to the unanimous acknowledgment of 
wise men, that the doctrine which commands the belief in a God 
who will reward and punish is the main pillar both of morals and 
of civil government. 

Finally, if we employ faith for its higher and specific objects, 
if we direct it entirely toward the Creator, if we make it the 
intellectual eye, by which to discover the wonders of the holy 
city and the empire of real existence, if it serve for wings to 
our soul, to raise us above the calamities of life, we will admit 
that the Scriptures have not too highly extolled this virtue, when 

1 Ambros., de Off., c. 35. 


they speak of the prodigies which may be performed by its 
means. Faith, celestial comforter, thoti dost more than remove 
mountains : thou takest away the heavy burdens by which the 
heart of man is gvievously oppressed I 1 



^ HOPE, the second theological virtue, is almost as powerful as 
faith. Desire is the parent of power; whoever strongly desires 
is sure to obtain. " Seek," says Jesus Christ, " and ye shall find ; 
knock, and it shall be opened unto you." In the same sense Py 
thagoras observed that "Power dwelleth with necessity;" for 
necessity implies privation, and privation is accompanied with 
desire. Desire or hope is genius. It possesses that energy which 
produces, and that thirst which is never appeased. Is a man 
disappointed in his plans ? it is because he did not desire with 
ardor; because he was not animated with that love which 
sooner or later grasps the object to which it aspires; that love 
which in the Deity embraces all things and enjoys all, by means 
of a boundless hope, ever gratified and ever reviving. 

There is, however, an essential difference between faith and 
hope considered as a power. Faith has its focus out of ourselves; 
it arises from an external object. Hope, on the contrary, springs 
up within us, and operates externally. The former is instilled 
into us, the latter is produced by our own desire; the former is 
obedience, the latter is love. But as faith more readily produces 
the other virtues, as it flows immediately from God, and is there 
fore superior to hope, which is only a part of man, the Church 
necessarily assigned to it the highest rank. 

The peculiar characteristic of hope is that which places it in 
relation with our sorrows. That religion which made a virtue of 
hope was most assuredly revealed by heaven. This nurse of the 
unfortunate, taking her station by man like a mother beside her 

1 See note D 


suffering child, rocks him in her arms, presses him to her bosom, 
and refreshes him with a beverage which soothes all his woes. 
She watches by his solitary pillow; she lulls him to sleep with 
her magic strains. Is it not surprising to see hope, which is so 
delightful a companion and seems to be a natural emotion of the 
soul, transformed for the Christian into a virtue which is an es 
sential part of his duty? Let him do what he will, he is obliged 
to drink copiously from this enchanted cup, at which thousands 
of poor creatures would esteem themselves happy to moisten their 
lips for a single moment. Nay, more, (and this is the most mar 
vellous circumstance of all,) he will be rewarded for having 
hoped, or, in other words, for having made himself happy. The 
Christian, whose life is a continual warfare, is treated by religion 
in his defeat like those vanquished generals whom the Roman 
senate received in triumph, for this reason alone, that they had 
not despaired of the final safety of the commonwealth. But if 
the ancients ascribed something marvellous to the man who never 
despaired, what would they have thought of the Christian, who, 
in his astonishing language, talks not of entertaining hope, but 
of practising it ? 

What shall we now say of that charity which is the daughter 
of Jesus Christ ? The proper signification of charity is grace 
and joy. Religion, aiming at the reformation of the human 
heart, and wishing to make its affections and feelings subservient 
to virtue, has invented a new passion. In order to express it, 
she has not employed the word love, which is too common ; or 
the word friendship, which ceases at the tomb ; or the word pity, 
which is too much akin to pride : but she has found the term 
caritasj CHARITY, which embraces all the three, and which at the 
same time is allied to something celestial. By means of this, she 
purifies our inclinations and directs them toward the Creator; 
by this she inculcates that admirable truth, that men ought to 
love each other in God, who will thus spiritualize their love, di 
vesting it of all earthly alloy and leaving it in its immortal 
purity. By this she inculcates the stupendous truth that mortals 
ought to love each other, if I may so express myself, through 
God, who spiritualizes their love, and separates from it whatever 
belongs not to its immortal essence. 

But if charity is a Christian virtue, an immediate emanation 


from the Almighty and his Word, it is also in close alliance with 
nature. It is in this continual harmony between heaven and 
earth, between God and man, that we discover the character of 
true religion. The moral and political institutions of antiquity 
are often in contradiction to the sentiments of the human soul. 
Christianity, on the contrary, ever in unison with the heart, en 
joins not solitary and abstract virtues, but such as are derived 
from our wants and are useful to mankind. It has placed charity 
as an abundant fountain in the desert of life. " Charity," says 
the apostle, " is patient, is kind ; charity envieth not, dealeth not 
perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her 
own, is not. provoked to anger, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in 
iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, be- 
lieveth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things/ 1 



IT is a reflection not a little mortifying to our pride, that all 
the maxims of human wisdom may be comprehended in a few 
pages : and even in those pages how many errors may be found ! 
The laws of Minos and Lycurgus have remained standing after 
the fall of the nations for which they were designed, only as the 
pyramids of the desert, the immortal palaces of death. 

Laws of the Second Zoroaster. 

Time, boundless and uncreated, is the creator of all things. 
The word was his daughter, who gave birth to Orsmus, the good 
deity, and Arimhan, the god of evil. 

Invoke the celestial bull, the father of grass and of man. 

The most meritorious work that a man can perform is to cul 
tivate his land with care. 

Pray with purity of thought, word, and action. 3 

1 1 Cor. xiii. 2 Zend-avesta. 



Teach thy child at the age of five years the distinction between 
good and evil. 1 Let the ungrateful be punished. 3 

The child who has thrice disobeyed his father shall die. 

The law declares the woman who contracts a second marriage 
to be impure. 

The impostor shall be scourged with rods. 

Despise the liar. 

At the end and the beginning of the year keep a festival of 
ten days. 

Indian Laws. 

The universe is Vishnu. 

Whatever has been, is he; whatever is, is he; whatever will 
be, is he. 

Let men be equal. 

Love virtue for its own sake ; renounce the fruit of thy works. 

Mortal, be wise, and thou shalt be strong as ten thousand 

The soul is God. 

Confess the faults of thy children to the sun and to men, and 
purify thyself in the waters of the Ganges. 5 

Egyptian Laws. 

Cnef, the universal God, is unknown darkness, impenetrable 

Osiris is the good, and Typhon the evil deity. 

Honor thy parents. 

Follow the profession of thy father. 

Be virtuous; the judges of the lake will, after thy death, pass 
sentence on thy actions. 

Wash thy body twice each day and twice each night. 

Live upon little. 

Reveal no secrets. 4 

Laws of Minos 
Swear not by the Gods. 
Young man, examine not the law. 

1 Xenoph., Cyrop. ; Plat, de Leg., lib. ii. 2 Xenoph , Cyrop. 

3 Free, of the Bram. ; Hist, of Ind. ; Diod. Sic., dec. 

4 Herod., lib. ii. ; Plat., de Leg. ; Plut., de Is. et Ot. 

*-* * 


The law declares him infamous who has no friend. 

The adultress shall be crowned with wool, and sold. 

Let your repasts be public, your life frugal, and your dances 
martial. 1 

[We shall not quote here the laws of Lycurgus, because they 
are partly but a repetition of those of Minos.] 

Laws of Solon. 

The son who neglects to bury his father, and he who defends 
him not, shall die. 

The adulterer shall not enter the temples. 

The magistrate who is intoxicated shall drink hemlock. 

The cowardly soldier shall be punished with death. 

It shall be lawful to kill the citizen who remains neutral in 
eivil dissensions. 

Let him who wishes to die acquaint the Archon, and die. 

He who is guilty of sacrilege shall suffer death. 

Wife, be the guide of thy blind husband. 

The immoral man shall be disqualified for governing. 3 

Primitive Laws of Rome. 

Honor small fortune. 

Let men be both husbandmen and soldiers. 

Keep wine for the aged. 

The husbandman who eats his ox shall be sentenced to die. 8 

Laws of the Gauls, or Druids. 

The universe is eternal, the soul immortal. 

Honor nature. 

Defend thy mother, thy country, the earth 

Admit woman into thy councils. 

Honor the stranger, and set apart his portion out of thy har 

The man who has lost his honor shall be buried in mud. 

Erect no temples, and commit the history of the past to thy 
memory alone. 

Man, thou art free ; own no property. 

i Arist., Pol.; Plat, de leg. 2 Plut., in Vit. Sol. ; Tit. Liv. 

Plut., in Num. j Tit. Liv. 


Honor the aged, and let not the young bear witness against 

The brave man shall be rewarded after death, and the coward 
punished. 1 

Laws of Pythagoras. 

Honor the immortal Gods as established by the law. 

Honor thy parents. 

Do that which will not wound thy memory. 

Close not thine eyes to sleep, till thou hast thrice examined in 
thy soul the actions of the day. 

Ask thyself: Where have I been? What have I done? What 
ought I to have done ? 

Then, after a holy life, when thy body shall return to the ele 
ments, thou shalt become immortal and incorruptible ; thou shalt 
no longer be liable to death. 2 

Such is nearly all that has been preserved of the so highly 
vaunted wisdom of antiquity ! Here, God is represented as pro 
found darkness ; doubtless from excess of light, like the dimness 
that obstructs the sight when you endeavor to look at the sun : 
there, the man who has no friend is declared infamous, a denun 
ciation which includes all the unfortunate : again, suicide is 
authorized by law : and lastly, some of these sages seem totally 
to forget the existence of a Supreme Being. Moreover, how 
many vague, incoherent, commonplace ideas are found in most 
of these sentences ! The sages of the Portico and of the Academy 
altermitely proclaim such contradictory maxims, that we may 
prove from the same book that its author believed and did not 
believe in God ; that he acknowledged and did not acknowledge 
a positive virtue; that liberty is the greatest of blessings and 
despotism the best of governments. 

1 Tacit., de mor. Germ. ; Strab. ; Caesar, Com. ; Edda, Ac. 

2 To these Tables might be added an extract from Plato s Republic, or rather 
from the twelve books of his laws, which we consider his best work, on account 
of the exquisite picture of the three old men who converse together on their 
way to the fountain, and the good sense which pervades this dialogue. But 
these precepts were not reduced t) practice; we shall therefore refrain from 
any notice of them. As to the Koran, all that it contains, either holy or just, 
is borrowed almost verbatim from our sacred Scriptures j the rest is a KaKbin- 
ical compilation. 


If, amid these conflicting sentiments, we were to discover a 
code of moral laws, without contradictions, without errors, which 
would remove all our doubts, and teach us what we ought to think 
of God and in what relation we really stand with men, if this 
code were delivered with a tone of authority and a simplicity of 
language never before known, should we not conclude that these 
laws have emanated from heaven alone ? These divine precepts 
we possess; and what a subject do they present for the medita 
tion of the sage and for the fancy of the poet ! Behold Moses 
as he descends from the burning mountain. In his hands he 3ar- 
ries two tables of stone; brilliant rays encircle his brow; his face 
beams with divine glory; the terrors of Jehovah go before him; 
in the horizon are seen the mountains of Libanus, crowned with 
their eternal snows, and their stately cedars disappearing in the 
clouds. Prostrate at the foot of Sinai, the posterity of Jacob 
cover their faces, lest they behold God and die. At length the 
thunders cease, and a voice proclaims : 

Hearken, Israel, unto me, Jehovah, thy Gods, 1 who have 
brought thee out of the land of Mizraim, out of the house of 

1. Thou shalt have no other Gods before my face. 

2. Thou shalt not make any idol with thy hands, nor any 
image of that which is in the astonishing waters above, nor on 
the earth beneath, nor in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt 
not bow before the images, and thou shalt not serve them ; for I, 
I am Jehovah, thy Gods, the strong God, the jealous God, visit 
ing the iniquity of the fathers, the iniquity of those who hate me, 

1 We translate the Decalogue verbatim from the Hebrew, on account of the 
expression thy Gods, which is not rendered in any version. (Elohe is the plu 
ral masculine of Elohim, God, Judge; we frequently meet wifh it thus in the 
plural in the Bible, while the verb, the pronoun, and the adjective remain in 
the singular. In Gen. i. we read Elohe bara, the Gods created, (sing.) and it ia 
impossible to understand any other than three persons ; for if two had been 
meant, Elohim would have been in the dual. We shall make another remark, 
not less important, respecting the word Adamah, which likewise occurs in the 
Decalogue. Adam signifies red earth, and ah, the expletive, expresses some 
thing farther, beyond. God makes use of it in promising long days on the 
earth AND BEYOND to such children as honor their father and mother. Thug 
the Trinity and the immortality of the soul are implied in the Decalogue by 
Elohe, thy Gods, or several divine existents in unity, Jehovah ; and Adam-ah, 
earth and beyond.) See note E. 


upon the children to the third and fourth generation, ana show 
ing mercy a thousand times to those who love me and who keep 
my commandments. 

3. Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah, thy Gods, in 
vain ; for he will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in 

4. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt 
thou labor and do thy work ; but the seventh day of Jehovah, 
thy Gods, thou shalt not do any work, neither thou, nor thy son, 
nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor 
thy camel, nor thy guest before thy doors; for in six days Jeho 
vah made the marvellous waters above, 1 the earth and the sea, 
and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day : wherefore 
Jehovah blessed and hallowed it. 

5. Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be 
long on the earth and beyond the earth which Jehovah r <% Gods, 
hath given thee. 

6. Thou shalt not kill. 

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

8. Thou shalt not steal. 

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor s house, nor thy neigh- 
bor s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, 
nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor s. 

Such are the laws which the great Creator has engraved, not 
only upon the marble of Sinai, but also upon the heart of man. 
What strikes us, in the first place, is that character of univer 
sality which distinguishes this divine code from all human codes 
that precede it. Here we have the law of all nations, of all cli 
mates, of all times. Pythagoras and Zoroaster addressed the 
Greeks and the Medes ; Jehovah speaks to all mankind. In him 
we recognise that Almighty Father who watches over the uni 
verse, and who dispenses alike from his bounteous hand the grain 
of corn that feeds the insect and the sun that enlightens it. 

i This translation is far from giving any idea of the magnificence of the ori 
ginal. Shamajim is a kind of exclamation of wonder, like the voice of a whole 
nation, which, on viewing the firmament, would cry out with one accord "Be 
hold those miraculous waters suspended in the expanse above us. those orbs of 
crystal and of diamond!" How is it possible to render in our language, in the 
translation of a law, this poetical idea conveyed in a word of three syllables ? 


In the next place, nothing can be more admirable than these 
moral laws of the Hebrews, for their simplicity and justice. The 
pagans enjoined upon men to honor the authors of their days : So 
lon decrees death as the punishment of the wicked son. What 
does the divine law say on this subject? It promises life to filial 
piety. This commandment is founded on the very constitution 
of our nature. God makes a precept of filial love, but he has not 
enjoined paternal affection. He knew that the son, in whom are 
centred all the thoughts and hopes of the father, would often be 
but too fondly cherished by his parent : but he imposed the duty 
of love upon the son, because he knew the fickleness and the pride 
of youth. 

In the Decalogue, as in the other works of the Almighty, we 
behold majesty and grace of expression combined with the in 
trinsic power of divine wisdom. The Brahmin expresses but 
very imperfectly the three persons of the Deity ; the name of 
Jehovah embraces them in a single word, composed of three 
tenses of the verb to be united by a sublime combination : havah, 
he was ; hovah, being, or he is ; and je, which, when placed be 
fore the three radical letters of a verb in Hebrew, indicates the 
future, he will be. 

Finally, the legislators of antiquity have marked in their codes 
the epochs of the festivals of nations ; but Israel s sabbath or day 
of rest is the sabbath of God himself. The Hebrew, as well as 
the Gentile, his heir, in the hours of his humble occupation, has 
nothing less before his eyes than the successive creation of the 
universe. Did Greece, though so highly poetical, ever refer the 
labors of the husbandman or the artisan to those splendid moments 
in which God created the light, marked out the course of the sun, 
and animated the heart of man ? 

Laws of God, how little do you resemble those of human insti 
tution ! Eternal as the principle whence you emanated, in vain 
do ages roll away ; ye are proof against the lapse of time, against 
persecution, and against the corruption of nations. This reli 
gious legislation, organized in the bosom of political legislations, 
and nevertheless independent of their fate, is an astonishing pro 
digy. While forms of government pass away or are newly- 
modelled, while power is transferred from hand to hand, a few 
Christians continue, amid the changes of life, to adore the same 


God, to submit to the same laws, without thinking themselves 
released from their ties by revolution, adversity, and example. 
What religion of antiquity did not lose its moral influence with 
the loss of its priests and its sacrifices ? Where are now the 
mysteries of Trophonius s cave and the secrets of the Eleusinian 
Ceres? Did not Apollo fall with Delphi, Baal with Babylon, 
Serapis with Thebes, Jupiter with the Capitol ? It can be said 
of Christianity alone, that it has often witnessed the destruction 
of its temples, without being affected by their fall. There were 
not always edifices erected in honor of Jesus Christ; but every 
place is a temple for the living God : the receptacle of the dead, 
the cavern of the mountain, and above all, the heart of the right 
eous. Jesus Christ had not always altars of porphyry, pulpits of 
cedar and ivory, and happy ones of this world for his servants : 
a stone in the desert is sufficient for the celebration of his mys 
teries, a tree for the proclamation of his laws, and a bed of t; orne 
f w the practice of his virtues. 




THERE are truths which no one calls in question, though it is 
.mpossible to furnish any direct proofs of them. The rebellion 
and fall of Lucifer, the creation of the world, the primeval hap 
piness and transgression of man, belong to the number of these 
truths. It is not to be supposed that an absurd falsehood could 
have become a universal tradition. Open the books of the 
second Zoroaster, the dialogues of Plato, and those of Lucian, 
the moral treatises of Plutarch, the annals of the Chinese, the 
Bible of the Hebrews, the Edda of the Scandinavians ; go among 
the negroes of Africa, or the learned priests of India; 1 they will 
all recapitulate the crimes of the evil deity ; they will all tell you 
of the too short period of man s felicity, and the long calamities 
which followed the loss of his innocence. 

Voltaire somewhere asserts that we possess a most wretched 
copy of the different popular traditions respecting the origin of 
the world, and the physical and moral elements which compose 
it. Did he prefer, then, the cosmogony of the Egyptians, the 
great winged egg of the Theban priests ? 3 Hear what is related 
by the most ancient historian after Moses : 

"The principle of the universe was a gloomy and tempestuous 
atmosphere, a wind produced by this gloomy atmosphere and 
a turbulent chaos. This principle was unbounded, and for a long 
time had neither limit nor form. But when this wind became 
enamored of its own principles, a mixture was the result, and 
this mixture was called desire or love. 

1 See note F. 2 Herod., lib. ii. ; Diod. Sic. 



"This mixture being complete was the beginning of all things; 
but the wind knew not his own offspring, the mixture. With the 
wind, her father, this mixture produced mud, and hence sprang 
all the generations of the universe." 1 

If we pass to the Greek philosophers, we find Thales, the foun 
der of the Ionic sect, asserting water to be the universal prin 
ciple. 8 Plato contended that the Deity had arranged the world, 
but had not had the power to create it. 3 God, said he, formed 
the universe, after the model existing from all eternity in him 
self. 4 Visible objects are but shadows of the ideas of God, which 
are the only real substances. 6 God, moreover, infused into all 
beings a breath of his life, and formed of them a third principle, 
which is both spirit and matter, and which we call the soul of 
the world. 6 

Aristotle reasoned like Plato respecting the origin of the uni 
verse ; but he conceived the beautiful system of the chain of 
beings, and, ascending from action to action, he proved that there 
must exist somewhere a primary principle of motion. 7 

Zeno maintained that the world was arranged by its own 
energy ; that nature is the system which embraces all things, and 
consists of two principles, the one active, the other passive, not 
existing separately, but in combination ; that these two principles 
are subject to a third, which is fatality; that God, matter, and 
fatality, form but one being; that they compose at once the 
wheels, the springs, the laws, of the machine, and obey as parts 
the laws which they dictate as the whole* 

According to the philosophy of Epicurus, the universe has ex 
isted from all eternity. There are but two things in nature, 
matter and space. 9 Bodies are formed by the aggregation of in 
finitely minute particles of matter or atoms, which have an inter 
nal principle of motion, that is, gravity. Their revolution would 

1 Sanch., ap, Eneeb., Prcepar. Evany., lib. i. C. 10. 

2 Cic., de Nat. Deor., lib. i. n. 25. 

3 Tim., p. 28 ; Diog. Laert., lib. iii. ; Plut, de Gen. Anim., p. 78. 

* Plat., Tim., p. 29. 5 Id., Rep., lib. vii. 6 Id., in Tim., p. 34. 

7 Arist., de Gen. An., lib. ii. c. 3 ; Met, lib. xi. c. 5 ; De Ccel., lib. xi. c. 3. 
* Laert., lib. v. ; Stob., Eccl. Phys., c. xiv. j Senec., Coruol., c. xxix. ; Cie. 
Nat. Deor. Anton., lib. vii. 
9 Lucret., ib. ii. ; Laert., lib. x. 


be made in a vertical plane, if they did not, in consequence of a 
particular law, describe an ellipsis in the regions of space. 1 

Epicurus invented this oblique movement for the purpose of 
avoiding the system of the fatalists, which would be reproduced 
by the perpendicular motion of the atom. But the hypothesis is 
absurd ; for if the declination of the atom is a law, it is so from 
necessity ; and how can a necessitated cause produce a free effect ? 
But to proceed. 

From the fortuitous concourse of these atoms originated the 
heavens and the earth, the planets and the stars, vegetables, 
minerals, and animals, including man ; and when the productive 
virtue of the globe was exhausted, the living races were* per 
petuated by means of generation. 3 The members of the different 
animals, formed by accident, had no particular destination. The 
concave ear was not scooped out for the purpose of hearing, nor 
was the convex eye rounded in order to see ; but, as these organs 
chanced to be adapted to those different uses, the animals em 
ployed them mechanically, and in preference to the other senses. 3 

After this statement of the cosmogonies of the philosophers, 
it would be superfluous to notice those of the poets. Who hag 
not heard of Deucalion and Pyrrha, of the golden and of the iron 
ages ? As to the traditions current among other nations of the 
earth, we will simply remark that in the East Indies an elephant 
supports the globe ; in Peru, the sun made all things ; in Canada, 
the great hare is the father of the world ; in Greenland, man 
sprang from a shell-fish; 4 lastly, Scandinavia records the birth 
of Askus and Emla : Odin gives them a soul, Haener reason, and 
Lsedur blood and beauty. 5 

Loc. cit. 

* Luc:et., lib. v. et x. ; Cic., de Nat. Dear., lib. i. c. 8, 9. 

3 Lucret., lib. iv., v. 

4 See Hesiod ; Ovid ; Hist, of Hindustan ; Herrera, Histor. de las Ind. , 
Charlevoix, Hist, de la Nouv. Fr. ; P. Lafitau, Moeurs des Ind. ; Travels ic 
Greenland, by a Missionary. 

5 Askum et Emlaui, omni conatu destitutes, 
Aniinam nee possidebant, rationem nee habebant, 
Nee sanguinem nee sermonem, nee faciem venustam : 
Animam dedit Odinus, rationem dedit Hsenerus; 
Laedur sanguinernaddiditetfaciein venustam. 




In these various cosmogonies we find childish tales on the one 
hand and philosophical abstractions on the other; and were wa 
obliged to choose between them, it would be better to adopt the 

In order to distinguish, among a number of paintings, the ori 
ginal from the copy, we must look for that which, in its ensemble 
or in the perfection of its parts, exhibits the genius of the master. 
Now, this is precisely what we find in the book of Genesis, which 
is the original of the representations met with in popular tradi 
tions. What can be more natural, and at the same time more 
magnificent, what more easy of conception, or more consonant 
with human reason, than the Creator descending into the realms 
of ancient night and producing light by the operation of a word ? 
The sun, in an instant, takes his station in the heavens, in the 
centre of an immense dome of azure ; he throws his invisible net 
work over the planets, and detains them about him as his cap 
tives ; the seas and forests commence their undulations on the 
globe, and their voices are heard for the first time proclaiming to 
the universe that marriage in which God himself is the priest, 
the earth is the nuptial couch, and mankind is the progeny. 1 



WE are again struck with astonishment in contemplating that 
other truth announced in the Scriptures: man dying in conse 
quence of having poisoned himself from the tree of life ! man 
lost for having tasted the fruit of knowledge, for having learned 

1 The Asiatic Researches cor.firm the truth of the book of Genesis. They 
divide mythology into three branches, one of which extended throughout In 
dia, the second over Greece, and the third among the savages of North Ame 
rica. They also show that this same mythology was derived from a still more 
ancient tradition, which is that of Moses. Modern travellers in India every 
where find traces of the facts recorded in Scripture. The authenticity of these 
traditions, after having been long contested, has now ceased to be a matter of 


too much of good and evil, for having ceased to resemble the 
child of the gospel ! If we suppose any other prohibition of the 
Deity, relative to any propensity of the soul whatever, where is 
the profound wisdom in the command of the Most High? It 
would seem to be unworthy of the Divinity, and no moral would 
result from the disobedience of Adam. But observe how the 
whole history of the world springs from the law imposed on our 
first parents. God placed knowledge within his reach; he could 
not refuse it him, since man was created intelligent and free; 
but he cautioned him that if he was resolved on knowing too 
much, this knowledge would result in the death of himself and 
of hu posterity. The secret of the political and moral existence 
of nations, and the profoundest mysteries of the human heart, are 
comprised in the tradition of this wonderful and fatal tree. 

Now let us contemplate the marvellous consequence of this 
prohibition of infinite wisdom. Man falls, and the demon of 
pride occasions his fall. But pride borrows the voice of love to 
seduce him, and it is for the sake of a woman that Adam aspires 
to an equality with God a profound illustration of the two prin 
cipal passions of the heart, vanity and love. Bossuet, in his Ele 
vations to God, in which we often perceive the author of the 
Funeral Orations, observes, in treating of the mystery of the 
serpent, that "the angels conversed with man in such forms as 
God permitted, and under the figure of animals. Eve therefore 
was not surprised to hear the serpent speak, any more than she 
was to see God himself appear under a sensible form." " Why," 
adds the same writer, "did God cause the proud spirit to appear 
in that form in preference to any other? Though it is not abso 
lutely necessary for us to know this, yet Scripture intimates the 
reason, when it observes that the serpent was the most subtle of 
all animals; that is to say, the one which most aptly represented 
Satan in his malice, his artifices, and afterward in his punish 

The present age rejects with disdain whatever savors of the 
marvellous; but the serpent has frequently been the subject 
of our observations, and, if we may venture to say it, we seem 
to recognise in that animal the pernicious spirit and artful malice 
which are ascribed to it in the Scriptures. Every thing is mys 
terious, secret, astonishing, in this incomprehensible reptile. His 


movements differ from those of all other animals. It is impossi 
ble to say where his locomotive principle lies, for he has neither 
fins, nor feet, nor wings; and yet he flits like a shadow, he van 
ishes as by magic, he reappears and is gone again, like a light 
azure vapor, or the gleams of a sabre in the dark. Now he curls 
himself into a circle and projects a tongue of fire; now, standing 
erect upon the extremity of his tail, he moves along in a perpen 
dicular attitude, as by enchantment. He rolls himself into a ball, 
rises and falls in a spiral line, gives to his rings the undulations 
of a wave, twines round the branches of trees, glides under the 
grass of the meadow, or skims along the surface of water. His 
colors are not more determinate than his movements. They 
change with each new point of view, and like his motions, they 
possess the false splendor and deceitful variety of the seducer. 

Still more astonishing in other respects, he knows, like the 
murderer, how to throw aside his garment stained with blood, lest 
it should lead to his detection. By a singular faculty, the female 
can introduce into her body the little monsters to which she has 
given birth. 1 The serpent passes whole months in sleep. He 
frequents tombs, inhabits secret retreats, produces poisons which 
chill, burn, or checquer the body of his victim with the colors 
with which he is himself marked. In one place, he lifts two 
menacing heads; in another, he sounds a rattle. He hisses like 
the mountain eagle, or bellows like a bull. He naturally enters 
into the moral or religious ideas of men, as if in consequence 
of the influence which he exercised over their destiny. An 
object of horror or adoration, they either view him with an im 
placable hatred, or bow down before his genius. Falsehood ap 
peals to him, prudence calls him to her aid, envy bears him in 
her bosom, and eloquence on her wand. In hell he arms the 
scourges of the furies; in heaven eternity is typified by his image. 

1 As this part of the description is so very extraordinary, it nny appear to 
want confirmation. "Mr. de Beauvois, as related in the Americar. Philosophi 
cal Transactions, declared himself an eye-witness of such a fact as is above 
stated. He saw a large rattlesnake, which he had disturbed in his walks, open 
her jaws, and instantly five small ones, which were lying by her, rushed into her 
mouth. He retired and watched her, and in a quarter of an hour saw her again 
discharge them. The common viper does the same." See Shaw s General Zo 
ology, vol. iii. pp. 324, 374. K. 


He possesses, moreover, the art of seducing innocence. His eyes 
fascinate the birds of the air, and beneath the fern of the crib 
the ewe gives up to him her milk. But he may himself be 
charmed by the harmony of sweet sounds, and to subdue him the 
shepherd needs no other weapon than his pipe. 

In the month of July, 1791, we were travelling in Upper 
Canada with several families of savages belonging to the nation 
of the Onondagos. One day, while we were encamped in a spa 
cious plain on the bank of the Genesee River, we saw a rattlesnake. 
There was a Canadian in our party who could play on the flute, 
and to divert us he advanced toward the serpent with his new 
species of weapon. On the approach of his enemy, the haughty 
reptile curls himself into a spiral line, flattens his head, inflates 
his cheeks, contracts his lips, displays his envenomed fangs and 
his bloody throat. His double tongue glows like two flames of 
fire; his eyes are burning coals; his body, swollen with rage, 
rises and falls like the bellows of a forge; his dilated skin as 
sumes a dull and scaly appearance; and his tail, which sends forth 
an ominous sound, vibrates with such rapidity as to resemble a 
light vapor. 

The Canadian now begins to play on his flute. The serpent 
starts with surprise and draws back his head. In proportion as 
he is struck with the magic sound, his eyes lose their fierceness, 
the oscillations of his tail diminish, and the noise which it emits 
grows weaker, and gradually dies away. The spiral folds of the 
charmed serpent, diverging from the perpendicular, expand, and 
one after the other sink to the ground in concentric circles. The 
tints of azure, green, white, and gold, recover their brilliancy on 
his quivering skin, and, slightly turning his head, he remains mo 
tionless in the attitude of attention and pleasure. 

At this moment the Canadian advanced a few steps, producing 
with his flute sweet and simple notes. The reptile immediately 
lowers his variegated neck, opens a passage with his head through 
the slender grass, and begins to creep after the musician, halting 
when he halts, and again following him when he resumes his 
march. In this way he was led beyond the limits of our camp, 
attended by a great number of spectators, both savages and 
Europeans, who could scarcely believe their eyes. After wit 
nessing this wonderful effect of melody, the assembly unani- 
10* H 


mously decided that the marvellous serpent should be permitted 
to escape. 1 

To this kind of inference, drawn from the habits of the serpent 
in favor of the truths of Scripture, we shall add another, deduced 
from a Hebrew word. Is it not very remarkable, and at the 
same time extremely philosophical, that, in Hebrew, the generic 
term for man should signify fever or pain? The root of Enosh, 
man, is the verb anash, to be dangerously ill. This appellation 
was not given to our first parent by the Almighty : he called him 
gimply Adam, red earth or slime. It was not till after the fall 
that Adam s posterity assumed the name of Enosh, or man, which 
was so perfectly adapted to his afflictions, and most eloquently 
reminded him both of his guilt and its punishment. Perhaps 
Adam, when he witnessed the pangs of his wife, and took into his 
arms Cain, his first-born son, lifting him toward heaven, exclaimed, 
in the acuteness of his feelings, Enosh, Oh, anguish ! a doleful 
exclamation that may have led afterward to the designation of 
the human race. 



WE indicated certain moral evidences of original sin in treat 
ing of baptism and the redemption ; but a matter of such import 
ance deserves more than a passing notice. "The knot of our 
condition," says Pascal, "has its twists and folds in this abyss, 

1 In India the Cobra de Capello, or hooded snake, is carried about as a show 
in a basket, and so managed as to exhibit when shown a kind of dancing mo 
tion, raising itself up on its lower part, and alternately moving its head and 
body from side to side to the sound of some musical instrument which is played 
during the time. Shatv s Zooloyy, vol. iii. p. 411. 

The serpentcs, the most formidable of reptiles, as they make a most distin 
guishecl figure in natural history, so they are frequently the subject of descrip 
tion with naturalists and poets. But it would be difficult to find, either iti 
Buifon or Shaw, in Virgil, or even in Lucan, who is enamored of the subject, 
any thing superior to this vivid picture of our author. K. 


so that man is more inconceivable without this mystery than this 
mystery is inconceivable to man." 1 

It appears to us that the order of the universe furnishes a new 
proof of our primitive degeneracy. If we survey the world around 
us we shall remark that, by a general, and at the same time a par 
ticular law, all the integral parts, all the springs of action, whether 
internal or external, all the qualities of beings, have a perfect con 
formity with one another. Thus the heavenly bodies accomplish 
their revolutions in an admirable unity, and each body, steadily 
pursuing its course, describes the orbit peculiar to itself. One 
single globe imparts light and heat. These two qualities are not 
divided between two spheres; the sun combines them in his orb 
as God, whose image he is, unites the fertilizing principle with 
the principle which illumines. 

The same law obtains among animals. Their ideas, if we may 
be allowed the expression, invariably accord with their feelings, 
their reason with their passions. Hence it is that they are not 
susceptible of any increase or diminution of intelligence. The 
reader may easily pursue this law of conformities in the vegeta 
ble and mineral kingdoms. 

By what incomprehensible destiny does man alone form an ex 
ception to this law, so necessary for the order, the preservation, 
the peace and the welfare, of beings ? As obvious as this har 
mony of qualities and movements appears in the rest of nature, 
so striking is their discordance in man. There is a perpetual 
collision between his understanding and his will, between his 
reason and his heart. When he attains the highest degree of 
civilization, he is at the lowest point in the scale of morality; 
when free, he is barbarous ; when refined, he is bound with fet 
ters. Does he excel in the sciences ? his imagination expires. 
Does he become a poet ? he loses the faculty of profound thought. 
His heart gains at the expense of his head, and his head at the 
expense of his heart. He is impoverished in ideas in proportion 
as he abounds in feeling; his feelings become more confined in 
proportion as his ideas are enlarged. Strength renders him cold 
and harsh, while weakness makes him kind and gracious. A 
virtue invariably brings him a vice along with it ; and a vice, 

1 Pascal s Thoughts, chap. iii. 


when it leaves him, as invariably deprives him of a virtue. Na 
tions, collectively considered, exhibit the like vicissitudes ; they 
alternately lose and recover the light of wisdom. It might be 
said that the Genius of man, with a torch in his hand, is inces 
santly flying around the globe, amid the night that envelops us, 
appearing to the four quarters of the world like the nocturnal 
luminary, which, continually on the increase and the wane, at 
each step diminishes for one country the resplendence which she 
augments for another. 

It is, therefore, highly reasonable to suppose that man, in his 
primitive constitution, resembled the rest of the creation, and 
that this constitution consisted in the perfect harmony of the 
feelings and the faculty of thought, of the imagination and the 
understanding. Of this we shall perhaps be convinced, if we 
observe that this union is still necessary in order to enjoy even 
a shadow of that felicity which we have lost. Thus we are 
furnished with a clue to original sin by the mere chain of reason 
ing and the probabilities of analogy; since man, in the state in 
which we behold him, is not, we may presume, the primitive 
man. He stands in contradiction to nature ; disorderly when all 
things else are regular; with a double character when every thing 
around him is simple. Mysterious, variable, inexplicable, he is 
manifestly in the state of a being which some accident has over 
thrown : he is a palace that has crumbled to pieces, and been 
rebuilt with its ruins, where you behold some parts of an imposing 
appearance and others extremely offensive to the eye ; magnificent 
colonnades which lead to nothing; lofty porticos and low ceil 
ings ; strong lights and deep shades ; in a word, confusion and 
disorder pervading every quarter, and especially the sanctuary. 

Now, if the primitive constitution of man consisted in accord 
ances such as we find established among other beings, nothing 
more was necessary for the destruction of this order, or any such 
harmony in general, than to alter the equilibrium of the forces or 
qualities. In man this precious equilibrium was formed by the 
faculties of love and thought. Adam was at the same time the 
most enlightened and the best of men ; the most powerful in 
thought and the most powerful in love. But whatever has been 
created must necessarily have a progressive course. Instead of 
waiting for new attainments in knowledge to be derived from the 


revolution of ages, and to be accompanied by an accession of new 
feelings, Adam wanted to know every thing at once. Observe, 
too, what is very important : man had it in his power to destroy 
the harmony of his being in two ways, either by wanting to love 
too much, or to know too much. He transgressed in the second 
way; for we are, in fact, far more deeply tinctured with the pride 
of science than with the pride of love; the latter would have 
deserved pity rather than punishment, and if Adam had been 
guilty of desiring to feel rather than to know too much, man 
himself might, perhaps, have been able to expiate his transgres 
sion, and the Son of God would not have been obliged to under 
take so painful a sacrifice. But the case was different. Adam 
sought to embrace the universe, not with the sentiments of his 
heart, but with the power of thought, and, advancing to the tree 
of knowledge, he admitted into his mind a ray of light that over 
powered it. The equilibrium was instantaneously destroyed, and 
confusion took possession of man. Instead of that illumination 
which he had promised himself, a thick darkness overcast his 
sight, and his guilt, like a veil, spread out between him and the 
universe. His whole soul was agitated and in commotion ; the 
passions rose up against the judgment, the judgment strove to 
annihilate the passions, and in this terrible storm the rock of 
death witnessed with joy the first of shipwrecks. 

Such was the accident that changed the harmonious and im 
mortal constitution of man. From that day all the elements of 
his teing have been scattered, and unable to come together again. 
The habit we might almost say the love of the tomb which 
matter has contracted destroys every plan of restoration in this 
world, because our lives are not long enough to confer success 
upon any efforts we could make to reach primeval perfection. 1 

1 It is in this point that the system of perfectibility is totally defective. Its 
supporters do not perceive that, if the mind were continually making new ac 
quisitions in knowledge, and the heart in sentiment or the moral virtues, man, 
in a given time, regaining the point whence he set out, would be, of necessity, 
immortal; for, every principle of division being done away in him, every prin 
ciple of death would likewise cease. The longevity of the patriarchs, and the 
gift of prophecy among the Hebrews,* must be ascribed to a restoration, more 
or less complete, of the equilibrium of human nature. Materialists therefore 

* That is, the natural faculty of predicting. T. 


But how could the world have contained so many generations 
if they had not been subject to death ? This is a mere affair of 
imagination. Are not the means in the hands of God infinite ? 
Who knows if men would have multiplied to that extent which 
we witness at the present day? Who knows whether the greater 
number of generations would not have remained in a virgin state, 1 
or whether those millions of orbs which revolve over our heads 
were not reserved for us as delicious retreats, to which we would 
have been conveyed by attendant angels ? To go still farther : it 
is impossible to calculate the height to which the arts and sciences 
might have been carried by man in a state of perfection and 
living forever upon the earth. If at an early period he made 
himself master of the three elements, if, in spite of the greatest 
difficulties, he now disputes with the birds the empire of the air, 
what would he not have attempted in his immortal career ? The 
nature of the atmosphere, which at present forms an invincible 
obstacle to a change of planet, was, perhaps, different before the 
deluge. Be this as it may, it is not unworthy the power of God 
and the greatness of man to suppose, that the race of Adam was 
destined to traverse the regions of space, and to people all those 
suns which, deprived of their inhabitants by sin, have since been 
nothing more than resplendent deserts. 

who support the system of perfectibility are inconsistent with themselves, since, 
in fact, this doctrine, so far from being that of materialism, leads to the most 
mystical spirituality. 

i Such was the opinion of St John Chrysostom. He supposes that God 
would have furnished a means of generation which is unknown to us. There 
stand, he says, before the throne of God, a multitude of angels who were born 
not by human agency. De Virgin,, lib ii. 





SOME learned men having inferred from the history of man or 
that of the earth that the world is of higher antiquity than that 
ascribed to it in the Mosaic account, we have frequent quotations 
from Sanchoniatho, Porphyry, the Sanscrit books, and other 
sources, in support of this opinion. But have they who lay so 
much stress on these authorities always consulted them in their 
originals ? 

In the first place, it is rather presumptuous to intimate that 
Origen, Eusebius, Bossuet, Pascal, Tension, Bacon, Newton, 
Leibnitz, Huet, and many others, were either ignorant or weak 
men, or wrote in opposition to their real sentiments. They be 
lieved in the truth of the Mosaic history, and it cannot be denied 
that these men possessed learning in comparison with which our 
imperfect erudition makes a very insignificant figure. 

But to begin with chronology : our modern scholars have made 
a mere sport of removing the insurmountable difficulties which 
confounded a Scaliger, a Petau, an Usher, a Grotius. They 
would laugh at our ignorance were we to inquire when the Olym 
piads commenced ? how they agree with the modes of compu 
tation by archons, by ephori, by ediles, by consuls, by reigns, by 
Pythian, Nemaean, and secular games ? how all the calendars of 
nations harmonize together ? in what manner we must proceed to 
make the ancient year of Romulus, consisting of ten months or 
354 days, accord with Numa s year of 355, or the Julian year of 
365 ? by what means we shall avoid errors in referring these same 



years to the common Attic year of 354 days, and to the embolis- 
mic year of 384 ?* 

These, however, are not the only perplexities in respect to 
years. The ancient Jewish yeai had but 354 days ; sometimes 
twelve days were added at the ei d of the year, and sometimes a 
month of thirty days was introduced after the month Adar, to 
form a solar year. The modern Jewish year counts twelve 
months, and takes seven years of thirteen months in the space of 
nineteen years. The Syriac year also varies, and consists of 365 
days. The Turkish or Arabic year has 354 days, and admits 
eleven intercalary months in twenty-nine years. The Egyptian 
year is divided into twelve months of thirty days, five days being 
added to the last. The Persian year, called Yezdegerdic, has a 
similar computation. 9 

Besides these various methods of counting time, all these years 
have neither the same beginning, nor the same hours, nor the 
same days, nor the same divisions. The civil year of the Jews 
(like all those of the Orientals) commences with the new moon 
of September, and their ecclesiastical year with the new moon of 
March. The Greeks reckon the first month of their year from 
the new moon following the summer solstice. The first month 
of the Persian year corresponds with our June ; and the Chinese 
and Indians begin theirs from the first moon in March. We find, 
moreover, astronomical and civil months, which are subdivided 
into lunar and solar, into synodical and periodical; we have 
months distributed into kalends, ides, decades, weeks; we find 
days of two kinds, artificial and natural, and commencing, the 
latter at sunrise, as among the ancient Babylonians, Syrians, and 
Persians, the former at sunset, as in China, in modern Italy, and 
of old among the Athenians, the Jews, and the barbarians of the 
north. The Arabs begin their days at noon ; the French, the Eng 
lish, the Germans, the Spaniards, and the Portuguese, at midnight. 

1 Embolismic means intercalary, or inserted. As the Greeks reckoned time 
by the lunar year of 354 days, in order to bring it to the solar year they added 
a thirteenth lunar month every two or three years. 

2 The other Persian year, called Gdalean, which commenced in the year of 
the world 1089, is the most exact of civil years, as it makes the solstices and 
the equinoxes fall precisely on the same days. It is formed by means of an 
intercalation repeated six or seven times in four, and afterward once in five, 


Lastly, the very hours are not without their perplexities in chro 
nology, being divided into Babylonian, Italian, and astronomical; 
and were we to be still more particular, we should no longer 
reckon sixty minutes in a European hour, but one thousand and 
eighty scruples in that of Chaldaea and Arabia. 

Chronology has been termed the torch of history; 1 would to 
God we had no other to throw a light upon the crimes of men ! 
But what would be our embarrassment if, in pursuing this sub 
ject, we entered upon the different periods, eras, or epochs ! 
The Victorian period, which embraces 532 years, is formed by 
the multiplication of the solar and lunar cycles. The same cycles, 
multiplied by that of the indiction, produce the 7980 years of 
the Julian period. The period of Constantinople comprehends 
an equal number of years with the Julian period, but does not 
begin at the sam epoch. As to eras, they reckon in some places 
by the year of the crtation, 3 in others by olympiads, 3 by the 
foundation of Rome, 4 by the birth of Christ, by the epoch of 
Eusebius, by that of the Seleucidae, 5 of Nabonassar, 6 of the Mar 
tyrs. 7 The Turks have their hegira, 8 the Persians their yezde- 
gerdic. 9 The Julian, Gregorian, Iberian, 10 and Actian 11 eras, are 
also employed in computation. We shall say nothing concerning 
the Arundelian marbles, the medals and monuments of all sorts, 
which create additional confusion in chronology. Is there any 
candid person who will deny, after glancing at these pages, that 
so many arbitrary modes of calculating time are sufficient to make 
of history a frightful chaos ? The annals of the Jews, by the 
confession of scientific men themselves, are the only ones whose 

I See note G. 

* This epoch is subdivided into the Greek, Jewish, Alexandrian, <fec. 

3 The Greek historians. 

4 The Latin historians. 

5 Followed by Josephus, the historian. 

6 Followed by Ptolemy and some others. 

7 Followed by the first Christians till 532, and in modern times by the 
Christians of Abyssinia and Egypt. 

8 The Orientals do not place it as we do. 

9 Thus named after a king of Persia who fell in a battle with the Saracens. 
in the year 632 of our era. 

10 Followed in the councils and on the ancient monuments of Spain. 

II Received its name from the battle of Actium, and was adopted by Ptolemy, 
Josephus, Eusebius, and Censorius. 


122 fiENIUS OF mil 1ST I A NIT Y. 

chronology is simple, regular, and luminous. Why. then, im 
pelled by an ardent y.eal for impiety, should we puzzle ourselves 
with questions of computation as dry as they are inexplicable, 
when we possess the surest clue to guide us in history? This is 
a new evidence in favor of the holy Scriptures. 1 



ATTER the chronological objections against the Bible, come those 
which some writers have pretended to deduce from historical 
facts themselves. They inform us of a tradition among the 
priests of Thebes, which supposed the kingdom of Egypt to have 
existed eighteen thousand years j and they cite the list of its 
dynasties, which is still extant. 

Plutarch, who cannot be suspected of Christianity, will furnish 
us with part of the reply to this objection. " Though their year," 
Bays he, speaking of the Egyptians, "comprehended four months, 
according to some authors, yet at first it consisted of only one, 
and contained no more than the course of a single moon. In this 
way, making a year of a single month, the period which has 
elapsed from their origin appears extremely long, and they are 
reputed to be the most ancient people, though they settled in 
their country at a late period." 8 We learn, moreover, from Hero 
dotus, 3 Diodorus Siculus, 4 Justin, 5 Strabo, 6 and Jablonsky, 7 that 

1 Sir Isaac Newton applied the principles of astronomy to rectify the errors 
of chronology. He ascertained that the computations of time in the Old Tes 
tament coincided exactly with the revolutions of the heavenly bodies. By the 
aid of astronomy he corrected the whole disordered state of computing time 
in the profane writers, and confirmed the accuracy and truth of the Scripture 
chronology. Neither Cardinal Baronius, in his annals, nor Petavius, nor S< -:t- 
liger, in his emendations of Eusehius, great as were their lab and diligence, 
have found their way so well through the labyrinths of chronology, or si-ulcd 
its disputable and intricate points more satisfactorily in their bulky folios, than 
our author has done in the compass of this short chapter. K. 

2 Plut, in Num. 3 Herodot, lib. ii. 4 Diod., lib. i. 

6 Just., lib. i. 6 Strab., lib. xvii. 7 Jablonsk P tnth. Eyypt., lib. it. 



the Egyptians find a pretended glory in referring their origin to 
the remotest antiquity, and, as it were, concealing their birth in 
the obscurity of ages. 

The number of their reigns can scarcely be a source of diffi 
culty. It is well known that the Egyptian dynasties are com 
posed of contemporary sovereigns j besides, the same word in the 
Oriental languages may be read in five or six different ways, and 
our ignorance has often made five or six persons out of one indi 
vidual. 1 The same thing has happened in regard to the transla 
tion rf a single name. The Athoth of the Egyptians is trans 
lated in Eratosthenes by Eppoyevr^, which signifies, in Greek, the 
learned, as Athoth expresses the same thing in Coptic : but his 
torians have not failed to make two kings of Athoth arid Hermes 
or Hermofjenes. But the Athoth of Manetho is again multiplied : 
in Plato, he is transformed into Thoth, and the text of Sancho- 
niatho proves in fact that this is the primitive name, the letter 
A being one of those which are retrenched or added at pleasure 
in the Oriental languages. Thus the name of the man whom 
Africanus calls Pachnas, is rendered by Josephus Apachnas. 
Here, then, we have Thoth, Athoth, Hermes, or Hermogenes, or 
Mercury, five celebrated men, who occupy together nearly two 
centuries ; and yet these Jive kings were but one single Egyptian, 
who perhaps did not live sixty years. 2 

For instance, the monogram of Fo-hi, a Chinese divinity, is precisely the 
same as that of Mencs, a divinity of Egypt. Moreover, it is well ascertained, 
that the Oriental characters are only general signs of ideas, which each one 
renders in his peculiar language, as he would the Arabic figures. Thus, the 
Italian calls duodecimo what the Englishman would express by the word twelve, 
and the Frenchman by the word douze. 

2 Some persons, perhaps in other respects enlightened, have accused the Jews 
of having adulterated the names of history ; but they should have known that 
it was the Greeks, and not the Jews, who were guilty of this alteration, espe 
cially in regard to Oriental names. See Boch., Geog. Sacr., &c. Even at the 
present day, in the East, Tyre is called Astir, from Tour or Sur. The Athe 
nians themselves would have pronounced it Titr or Tour ; for the y in modern 
language is epsiloii, or small u of the Greeks. In the same way, Darius may 
be derived from Assuerus. Dropping the initial A, according to a preceding 
remark, we have Suerus. But the delta, or capital D in Greek, is much like 
the 8 imech, or capital S in Hebrew, and the latter was thus changed among the 
Greeks into the former. By an error in pronunciation, the change was more 
easily effected : for, as a Frenchman would pronounce the English th like 2 or 
d, or t, so the Greek, having no letter like the Hebrew S, was inclined to pro- 


What necessity is there, after all, to lay so -much stress on logo- 
graphica. disputes, when we need but open the volumes of his 
tory to convince ourselves of the modern origin of men ? In 
vain shall we combine with imaginary ages, or conjure up ficti 
tious shades of death ; all this will not prevent mankind from 
being but a creature of yesterday. The names of those who in 
vented the arts are as familiar to us as those of a brother or a 
grandfather. It was Hypsuranius who built huts of reeds, the 
habitations of primeval innocence; Usoiis first clothed himself 
with the skins of beasts, and braved the billows on the trunk of 
a tree; 1 Tubalcain taught men the uses of iron; 8 Noah or Bac 
chus planted the vine ; Cain or Triptolemus fashioned the plough ; 
Agrotes 3 or Ceres reaped the first harvest. History, medicine, 
geometry, the fine arts, and laws, are not of higher antiquity; and 
we are indebted for them to Herodotus, Hippocrates, Thales, 
Homer, Daedalus, and Minos. As to the origin of kings and 
cities, their history has been transmitted to us by Moses, Plato, 
Justin, and some others, and we know when and why the various 
forms of government were established among different nations. 4 

If we are astonished to find such grandeur and magnificence 
in the early cities of Asia, this difficulty is easily removed by an 
observation founded on the genius of the Eastern nations. In 
all ages, it has been the custom of these nations to build immense 
cities, which, however, afford no evidence respecting their civil 
ization, and consequently their antiquity. The Arabs, who tra 
vel over burning sands, where they are quite satisfied to enjoy a 
little shade under a tent of sheepskins, have erected almost under 
our eyes gigantic cities, which these citizens of the desert seem 
to have designed as the enclosures of solitude. The Chinese, 
also, who have made so little progress in the arts, have the, most 

nounce it as their D, as the Samech in Hebrew has in fact something of this 
sound, according to the Masoretic points. Hence Dueru* for Suerus, and by a 
slight change of vowels, which are not important in etymology, we have Do- 
ius. They who wish to jest at the expense of religion, morals, the peace of 
nations, or the general happiness of mankind, should first be well assured that 
they .will not incur, in the attempt, the charge of pitiful ignorance. 

1 Sanch., ap. Eus., Prceparat. Evang., lib. i. c. 10. 

Gen., iv. 3 Sanch., loc, cit. 

4 See Pentat. of Moses ; Plat., de Leg. et Tim. ; Just., lib. ii., Herod ; Plut, 
in Thcs., Num., Lycurg., Sol., Ac. 


extensive cities on the face of the globe, with walls, gardens, 
palaces, lakes, and artificial canals, like those of ancient Babylon. 1 
Finally, are we not ourselves a striking instance of the rapidity 
with which nations become civilized ? Scarcely twelve centuries 
ago our ancestors were as barbarous as the Hottentots, and now 
we surpass Greece in all the refinements of taste, luxury, and the 

The general logic of languages cannot furnish any valid argu 
ment in favor of the antiquity of mankind. The idioms of the 
primitive East, far from indicating a very ancient state of society, 
exhibit on the contrary a close proximity to that of nature. Their 
mechanism is simple in the highest degree ; hyperbole, meta 
phor, all the poetic figures, incessantly recur ; but you will find in 
them scarcely any words for the expression of metaphysical ideas. 
It would be impossible to convey with perspicuity in the Hebrew 
language the theology of the Christian doctrine. 3 Among the 
Greeks and the modern Arabs alone we meet with compound 
terms capable of expressing the abstractions of thought. Every 
body knows that Aristotle was the first philosopher who invented 
categories, in which ideas are placed together by a forced ar 
rangement, of whatever class or nature they may be. 3 

Lastly, it is asserted that, before the Egyptians had erected 
those temples of which such beautiful ruins yet remain, the peo 
ple already tended their flocks amid ruins left by some unknown 
nation : a circumstance which would presuppose a very high 

To decide this question, it is necessary to ascertain precisely 

i See Fath. du Hald., Hist, de la Ch. j Lettr. Edif. ; Macartney s Emb. to 
China, Ac. 

a This may be easily ascertained by reading the Fathers who have written in 
Syriac, as St. Ephrem, deacon of Edessa. 

3 If languages require so much time for their complete formation, why have 
the savages of Canada such subtle and such complicated dialects ? The verbs 
of the Huron language have all the inflexions of the Greek verbs. Like the 
latter, they distinguish by the characteristic, the augment, Ac. They have 
three modes, three genders, three numbers, and, moreover, a certain derange 
ment of letters peculiar to the verbs of the Oriental languages. But, what is 
still more unaccountable, they have a fourth personal pronoun, which is placed 
between the second and third person both in the singular and in the plural. 
There is nothing like this in any of the dead or living languages with which 
we have the slightest acquaintance. 


who were the pastoral tribes, and whence they came. Bruce, the 
British traveller, who finds every thing in Ethiopia, derives their 
origin from that country. The Ethiopians, however, so far from 
being able to send colonies abroad, were themselves at that period 
a recently-established people. " The Ethiopians/ says Eusebius, 
" rising from the banks of the river Indus, settled near Egypt." 
Manetho, in his sixth dynasty, calls the shepherds Phoenician 
strangers. Eusebius places their arrival in Egypt during the 
reign of Amenophis, whence we must draw these two inferences : 

1. That Egypt was not then barbarous, since Inachus the Egyp 
tian, about this period, introduced the sciences into Greece; 

2. That Egypt was not covered with ruins, since Thebes was then 
built, and since Amenophis was the father of Sesostris, who raised 
the glory of the Egyptians to its highest pitch. According to 
Josephus the historian, it was Thetmosis who compelled the shep 
herds to abandon altogether the banks of the Nile. 1 

But what new arguments would have been urged against the 
Scripture, had its adversaries been acquainted with another his 
torical prodigy, which also belongs to the class of ruins, alas ! like 
every thing connected with the history of mankind ! Within 
these few years, extraordinary monuments have been discovered 
in North America, on the banks of the Muskiugum, the Miami, 
the Wabash, the Ohio, and particularly the Scioto, where they 
occupy a space upward of twenty leagues in length. They con 
sist of ramparts of earth, with ditches, slopes, moons, half-moons, 
and prodigious cones, which serve for sepulchres. It has been 
asked, what people could have left these remains ? But, so far, 
the question has not been answered. 3 Man is suspended in the 
present, between the past and the future, as on a rock between 
two gulfs : behind, before, all around, is darkness ; and scarcely 

1 Maneth., ad. Joseph, et Afric. ; Herod., lib. ii. c. 100; Diod., lib. i. ; Ps. 
xlviii. ; Euseb., Chron., lib. i. The invasion of these people, recorded by profane 
authors, explains a passage in Genesis relative to Jacob and his sons : " That 
ye may dwell in the land of Gessen, for the Egyptians have all shepherds in 
abomination." Gen. xlvi. 34. Hence, also, we obtain a clue to the Greek 
name of the Pharaoh under whom Israel entered Egypt, and that of the second 
Pharaoh, during whose reign his descendants quitted that country. The Scrip 
ture, so far from contradicting profane histories, serves, on the contrary, to 
prove their authenticity. 

2 See note H. 


does he see the few phantoms which, rising up from the bottom 
of either abyss, float for a moment upon the surface, and then 

Whatever conjectures may be formed respecting these Ame 
rican ruins, though they were accompanied with the visions of a 
primitive world, or the chimeras of an Atlantis, the civilized 
nation, whose plough, perhaps, turned up the plains where the 
Iroquois now pursues the bear, required no longer time for the 
consummation of its destiny, than that which swallowed up the 
empires of a Cyrus, an Alexander, and a Caesar. Fortunate at 
least is that nation which has not left behind a name in history, 
and whose possessions have fallen to no other heirs than the deer 
of the forest and the birds of the air ! No one will come intc 
these savage wilds to deny the Creator, and, with scales in his 
hand, to weigh the dust of departed humanity, with a view to 
prove the eternal duration of mankind. 

For my part, a solitary lover of nature and a simple confessor 
of the Deity, I once sat on those very ruins. A traveller without 
renown, I held converse with those relics, like myself, unknown 
The confused recollections of society, and the vague reveries of 
the desert, were blended in the recesses of my soul. Night had 
reached the middle of her course ; all was solemn and still the 
moon, the woods, and the sepulchres, save that at long intervals 
was heard the fall of some tree, which the axe of time laid low, 
in the depths of the forest. Thus every thing falls, every thing 
goes to ruin ! 

We do not conceive ourselves obliged to speak seriously of the 
four jog ties, or Indian ages, the first of which lasted three mil 
lion two hundred thousand years \ the second, one million ; the 
third, one million six hundred thousand ; while the fourth, which 
is the present age, will comprehend four hundred thousand years ! 

i f to all these difficulties of chronology, logography, and facts, 
we add the errors arising from the passions of the historian, or 
of men who are the partisans of his theories, if, moreover, we 
take into account the errors of copyists, and a thousand accidents 
of time and place, we shall be compelled to acknowledge that all 
the reasons drawn from history in favor of the antiquity of the 
globe, are as unsatisfactory in themselves as their research is use 
less. Most assuredly, too, it is a poor way of establishing the 


duration of the world, to make human life the basis of the calcu 
lation. Will you pretend to demonstrate the permanence and the 
reality of things by the rapid succession of momentary shadows ? 
Will you exhibit a heap of rubbish as the evidence of a society 
without beginning and without end ? Does it require many days 
to produce a pile of ruins ? The world would be old indeed were 
we to number its years by the wrecks which it presents to our 



IN the history of the firmament are sought the second proofs 
of the antiquity of the world and the errors of Scripture. Thus, 
the heavens, which declare the glory of God unto all men, and 
whose language is heard by all nations, 1 proclaim nothing to the 
infidel. Happily it is not that the celestial orbs are mute, but 
the athiest is deaf. 

Astronomy owes its origin to shepherds. In the wilds of the 
primitive creation, the first generations of men beheld their in 
fant families and their numerous flocks sporting around them, 
and, happy to the very inmost of their souls, no useless foresight 
disturbed their repose. In the departure of the birds of autumn 
they remarked not the flight of years, neither did the fall of the 
leaves apprise them of any thing more than the return of winter. 
When the neighboring hill was stripped of all its herbage by their 
flocks, mounting their wagons covered with skins, with their 
children and their wives, they traversed the forests in quest of 
some distant river, where the coolness of the shade and the beauty 
of the wilderness invited them to fix their new habitation. 

But they wanted a compass to direct them through those track 
less forests, and along those rivers which had never been explored ; 
and they naturally trusted to the guidance of the stars, by whose 
appearances they steered their course. At once legislators and 
guides, they regulated the shearing of the sheep and the most 

i Ps. xviii. 


distant migrations ; each family followed the course of a constel 
lation ; each star shone as the leader of a flock. In proportion 
as these pastoral people applied to this study, they discovered new 
laws. In those days God was pleased to unfold the course of the 
sun to the tenants of the lowly cabin, and fable recorded that 
Apollo had descended among the shepherds. 

Small columns of brick were raised to perpetuate the remem 
brance of observations. Never had the mightiest empire a more 
simple history. With the same tool with which he pierced his 
pipe, by the same altar on which he had sacrificed his firstling 
kid, the herdsman engraved upon a rock his immortal disco 
veries. In other places he left similar witnesses of this pastoral 
astronomy ; he exchanged annals with the firmament ; and in the 
same manner as he had inscribed the records of the stars among 
his flocks, he wrote the records of his flocks among the constel 
lations of the zodiac. The sun retired to rest only in the sheep- 
folds ; the bull announced by his bellowing the passage of the 
god of day, and the ram awaited his appearance to salute him in 
the name of his master. In the skies were discovered ears of 
corn, implements of agriculture, virgins, lambs, nay, even the 
shepherd s dog : the whole sphere was transformed, as it were, 
into a spacious rural mansion, inhabited by the Shepherd of men. 

These happy days passed away, but mankind retained a con 
fused tradition of them in those accounts of the golden age, in 
which the reign of the stars was invariably blended with that of 
the pastoral life. India has still an astronomical and pastoral cha 
racter, like Egypt of old. With corruption, however, arose pro 
perty; 1 with property mensuration, the second age of astronomy. 
But, by a destiny not a little remarkable, the simplest nations 
were still best acquainted with the system of the heavens ; the 
herdsman of the Ganges fell into errors less gross than the philo 
sopher of Athens : as if the muse of astronomy had retained a 
secret partiality for the shepherds, the objects of her first attach 

1 That is, the rights of property became objects of closer vigilance and more 
jealous care, as men grew more selfish. The right of property, being a neces 
sary appendage of the social state, cannot be an evil opposed to the divine law, 
but rather a relation which that law sanctions and commands ; so that the vio 
lation of the former implies the transgression of the latter. T. 


During those protracted calamities which accompanied and 
succeeded the fall of the Roman empire, the sciences had no 
other asylum than the sanctuary of that Church which they now 
so ungratefully profane. Cherished in the silence of the con 
vents, they owed their preservation to those same recluses whom, 
in our days, they affect to despise. A friar Bacon, a bishop 
Albert, a cardinal Cusa, resuscitated in their laborious vigils the 
genius of an Eudoxus, a Timocharis, an Hipparchus, and a 
Ptolemy. Patronized by the popes, who set an example to kings, 
the sciences at length spread abroad from those sacred retreats in 
which religion had gathered them under her protecting wings. 
Astronomy revived in every quarter. Gregory XIII. corrected 
the calendar; Copernicus reformed the system of the world; 
Tycho Brahe, from the top of his tower, renewed the memory of 
the ancient Babylonian observers ; Kepler determined the figure 
of the planetary orbits. But God humbled again the pride of 
man by granting to the sports of innocence what he had refused 
to the investigations of philosophy; the telescope was discovered 
by children. Galileo improved the new instrument; when, be 
hold ! the paths of immensity were at once shortened, the genius 
of man brought down the heavens from their elevation, and the 
stars came to be measured by his hands. 

These numerous discoveries were but the forerunners of others 
still more important; for man had approached too near the sanc 
tuary of nature not to be soon admitted within its precincts. 
Nothing was now wanted but the proper methods of relieving his 
mind from the vast calculations which overwhelmed it. Descartes 
soon ventured to refer to the great Creator the physical laws of 
our globe ; and, by one of those strokes of genius of which only 
four or five instances are recorded in history, he effected a union 
between algebra and geometry in the same manner as speech is 
combined with thought. Newton had only to apply the materials 
which so many hands had prepared for him, but he did it like a 
perfect artist; and from the various plans upon which he might 
have reared the edifice of the spheres, he selected the noblest, 
the most sublime design perhaps that of the Deity himself. The 
understanding at length ascertained the order which the eye ad 
mired ; the golden balance which Homer and the Scriptures give 
to the Supreme Arbiter was again put into his hand ; the comet 


submitted ; planet attracted planet across the regions of im 
mensity; ocean felt the pressure of two vast bodies floating mil 
lions of leagues from its surface ; from the sun to the minutest 
atom all things continued in their places by an admirable equili 
brium, and nothing in nature now wanted a counterpoise but the 
heart of man. 

Who could have thought it ? At the very time when so many 
new proofs of the greatness and wisdom of Providence were dis 
covered, there were men who shut their eyes more closely than 
ever against the light. Not that those immortal geniuses, Co 
pernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Leibnitz, and Newton, were athe 
ists ; but their successors, by an unaccountable fatality, imagined 
that they held the Deity within their crucibles and telescopes, 
because they perceived in them some of the elements with which 
the universal mind had founded the system of worlds. When we 
recall the terrors of the French revolution, when we consider 
that to the vanity of science we owe almost all our calamities, is 
it not enough to make us think that man was on the point of 
perishing once more, for having a second time raised his hand to 
the fruit of the tree of knowledge ? Let this afford us matter 
for reflection on the original crime : the ages of science have 
always bordered on the ages of destruction. 

Truly unfortunate, in our opinion, is the astronomer who can 
pass his nights in contemplating the stars without beholding in 
scribed upon them the name of God. What ! can he not see in 
such a variety of figures and characters the letters which compose 
that divine name ? Is not the problem of a Deity solved by the 
mysterious calculations of so many suns ? Does not the brilliant 
algebra of the heavens suffice to bring to light the great Un 
known ? 

The first astronomical objection alleged against the system of 
Moses is founded on the celestial sphere. " How can the world 
be so modern?" exclaims the philosopher; " the very composition 
of the sphere implies millions of years/ 

It must also be admitted that astronomy was one of the first 
sciences cultivated by men. Bailly proves that the patriarchs, 
before the time of Noah, were acquainted with the period of six 
hundred years, the year of 365 days, 5 hours, 51 minutes, 36 
seconds, and likewise that they named the six days of the crea- 


tion after the planetary order. 1 If the primitive generations 
were already so conversant with the history of the heavens, is it 
not highly probable that the ages which have elapsed since the 
deluge have been more than sufficient to bring the science of as 
tronomy to the state in which we find it at the present day? It 
is impossible to pronounce with certainty respecting the time 
necessary for the development of a science. From Copernicus to 
Newton, astronomy made greater progress in one century than h 
h;id previously done in the course of three thousand years. The 
sciences may be compared to regions diversified with plains and 
mountains. We proceed with rapid pace over the plain; but 
when we reach the foot of the mountain a considerable time is 
lost in exploring its paths and in climbing the summit from 
which we descend into another plain. It must not then be con 
cluded that astronomy was myriads of centuries in its infancy, 
because its middle age was protracted during four thousand years: 
such an idea would contradict all that we know of history and of 
the progress of the human mind. 

The second objection is deduced from the historical epochs, 
combined with the astronomical observations of nations, and in 
particular those of the Chaldeans and Indians. 

In regard to the former, it is well known that the seven hun 
dred and twenty thousand years of which they boasted are re 
ducible to nineteen hundred and three." 

As to the observations of the Indians, those which are founded 
on incontestable facts date no farther back than the year 3102 
before the Christian era. This we admit to be a very high de 
gree of antiquity, but it comes at least within known limits. At 
this epoch the fourth jogue or Indian age commences. Bailly, 
combining the first three ages and adding them to the fourth, 
shows that the whole chronology of the Brahmins is comprised in 
the space of about seventy centuries, which exactly corresponds 
with the chronology of the Septuagint. 3 He proves to demon 
stration that the chronicles of the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the 
Chinese, the Persians, and the Indians, coincide in a remarkable 

1 Bail., Hit. de V Ast. Anc. 

2 The tables of these observations, drawn up at Babylon before the arrival 
of Alexander, were sent by Callisi hones to Aristotle. 

3 See note I. 


degree with the epochs of Scripture. 1 We quote Bailly the more 
willingly, as that philosopher fell a victim to the principles which 
we have undertaken to refute. When this unfortunate man, in 
speaking of Hypatia, a young female astronomer, murdered by 
the inhabitants of Alexandria, observed that the moderns at least 
spare life, thouyh they show no mercy to reputation, little did he 
suspect that he would himself afford a lamentable proof of the 
fallacy of his assertion, and that in his own person the tragic 
story of Hypatia would be repeated. 

In short, all these endless series of generations and centuries, 
which are to be met with among different nations, spring from a 
weakness natural to the human heart. Man feels within himself 
a principle of immortality, and shrinks as it were with shame 
from the contemplation of his brief existence. He imagines that 
by piling tombs upon tombs he will hide from view this capital 
defect of his nature, and by adding nothing to nothing he will at 
length produce eternity. But he only betrays himself, and re 
veals what he is so anxious to conceal ; for, the higher the funeral, 
pyramid is reared, the more diminutive seems the living statue 
that surmounts it ; and life appears the more insignificant when 
the monstrous phantom of death lifts it up in its arms. 



ASTRONOMY having been found insufficient to destroy the 
chronology of Scripture, natural history was summoned to its 
aid.* Some writers speak of certain epochs in which the whole 

1 Bail., Ast. Ind., disc, prelim., part ii. 

2 Philosophers have laughed at Joshua, who commanded the sun to stand 
still. We would scarcely have thought it necessary to inform the present age 
that the sun, though the centre of our system, is not motionless. Others havo 
excused Joshua by observing that he adopted the popular mode of expression. 
They might just as well have said that he spoke like Newton. If you wished 
to stop a watch, you would not break a small wheel, but the main-spring, 
the suspension of which would instantly arrest the movements of the whole 



universe grew young again; others deny the great catastrophes 
of the globe, such as the universal deluge. "Rain," say they, 
" is nothing but the vapor of the ocean. Now, all the seas of the 
globe would not be sufficient to cover the earth to the height 
mentioned in Scripture." We might reply that this mode of 
reasoning is at variance with that very knowledge of which men 
boast so much nowadays, as modern chemistry teaches us that 
air may be converted into water. Were this the case, what a 
frightful deluge would be witnessed ! But, passing over, as we 
willingly do, those scientific arguments which explain every thing 
to the understanding without satisfying the heart, we shall con 
fine ourselves to the remark, that, to submerge the terrestrial por 
tion of the globe, it is sufficient for Ocean to overleap his bounds, 
carrying wkh him the waters of the fathomless gulf. Besides, 
ye presumptuous mortals, have ye penetrated into the treasures 
of the hail? 1 are ye acquainted with all the reservoirs of that 
abyss whence the Lord will call forth death on the dreadful day 
of his vengeance ? 

Whether God, raising the bed of the sea, poured its turbulent 
waters over the land, or, changing the course of the sun, caused 
it to rise at the pole, portentous of evil, the fact is certain, that 
a destructive deluge has laid waste the earth. 

On this occasion the human race was nearly annihilated. All 
national quarrels were at an end, all revolutions ceased. Kings, 
people, hostile armies, suspended their sanguinary quarrels, and, 
seized with mortal fear, embraced one another. The temples 
were crowded with suppliants, who had all their lives, perhaps, 
denied the -Deity; but the Deity denied them in his turn, and it 
was soon announced that all ocean was rushing in at the gates. In 
vain mothers fled with their infants to the summits of -the moun 
tains ; in vain the lover expected to find a refuge for his mistress 
in the same grot which had witnessed his vows ; in vain friends 
disputed with affrighted beasts the topmost branches of the oak; 
the bird himself, driven from bough to bough by the rising flood, 
tired his wings to no purpose over the shoreless plain of waters. 
The sun, which through sombre clouds shed a lurid light on 
naught but scenes of death, appeared dull and empurpled ; the 



volcanoes, disgorging vast masses of smoke, were extinguished, 
and one of the four elements, fire, perished together with light. 

The world was now covered with horrible shades which sent 
forth the most terrific cries. Amid the humid darkness, the 
remnant of living creatures, the tiger and the lamb, the eagle 
and the dove, the reptile and the insect, man and woman, hastened 
together to the most elevated rock on the surface of the globe; 
but Ocean still pursued them, and, raising around them his stu 
pendous and menacing waters, buried the last point of land be 
neath his stormy wastes. 

God, having accomplished his vengeance, commanded the seas 
to retire within the abyss ; but he determined to impress on the 
globe everlasting traces of his wrath. The relics of the elephant 
of India were piled up in the regions of Siberia; the shell-fish of 
the Magellanic shores were fixed in the quarries of France; whole 
beds of marine substances settled upon the summits of the Alps, 
of Taurus, and of the Cordilleras; and those mountains them 
selves were the monuments which God left in the three worlds 
to commemorate his triumph over the wicked, as a monarch 
erects a trophy on the field where he has defeated his enemies. 

He was not satisfied, however, with these general attestations 
of his past indignation. Knowing how soon the remembrance of 
calamity is effaced from the mind of man, he spread memorials 
of it everywhere around him. The sun had now no other throne 
in the morning, no other couch at night, than the watery element, 
in which it seemed to be daily extinguished as at the time of the 
deluge. Often the clouds of heaven resembled waves heaped 
upon one another, sandy shores or whitened cliffs. On land, the 
rocks discharged torrents of water. The light of the moon and 
the white vapors of evening at times gave to the valleys the ap 
pearance of being covered with a sheet of water. In the most arid 
situations grew trees, whose bending branches hung heavily toward 
the earth, as if they had just risen from the bosom of the waves. 
Twice a day the sea was commanded to rise again in its bed, and 
to invade its deep resounding shores. The caverns of the moun 
tains retained a hollow and mournful sound. The summits of the 
solitary woods presented an image of the rolling billows, and the 
ocean seemed to have left the roar of its waters in the recesses of 
the forest. 




WE now come to the third objection relative to the modern 
origin of the globe. "The earth/ it is said, "is an aged nurse, 
who betrays her antiquity in every thing. Examine her fossils, 
her marbles, her granites, her lavas, and you will discover in 
them a series of innumerable years, marked by circles, strata, or 
branches, as the age of a serpent is determined by his rattles, that 
of a horse by his teeth, or that of a stag by his antlers." 1 

This difficulty has been solved a hundred times by the follow 
ing answer: God might have created, and doubtless aid create, 
the world with all the marks of antiquity and completeness which 
it now exhibits. 

What, in fact, can be more probable than that the Author of 
nature originally produced both venerable forests and young plan 
tations, and that the animals were created, some full of days, 
others adorned with the graces of infancy ? The oaks, on spring 
ing from the fruitful soil, doubtless bore at once the aged crows 
and the new progeny of doves. Worm, chrysalis, and butterfly 
the insect crawled upon the grass, suspended its golden egg in the 
forest, or fluttered aloft in the air. The bee, though she had 
lived but a morning, already gathered her ambrosia from genera 
tions of flowers. We may. imagine that the ewe was not without 
her lamb, nor the linnet without her young; and that the flower 
ing shrubs concealed among their buds nightingales, astonished at 
the warbling notes in which they expressed the tenderness of 
their first enjoyments. 

If the world had not been at the same time young and old, 
the grand, the serious, the moral, would have been banished from 
the face of nature; for these are ideas essentially inherent in an- 
tique^objects. Every scene would have lost its wonders. The 
rock in ruins would no longer have overhung the abyss with its 
The forestg? stripped of their accidents> 

1 See note K 


no longer have exhibited the pleasing irregularity of trees curved 
in every direction, and of trunks bending over the currents of 
rivers. The inspired thoughts, the venerable sounds, the magic 
voices, the sacred awe of the forests, would have been wanting, 
together with the darksome bowers which serve for their retreats; 
and the solitudes of earth and heaven would have remained bare 
and unattractive without those columns of oaks which join them 
together. We may well suppose, that the very day the ocean 
poured its first waves upon the shores, they dashed against rocks 
already worn, over strands covered with fragments of shell-fish, 
and around barren capes which protected the sinking coasts 
against the ravages of the waters. 

Without this original antiquity, there would have been neither 
beauty nor magnificence in the work of the Almighty; and, what 
could not possibly be the case, nature, in a state of innocence, 
would have been less charming than she is in her present dege 
nerate condition. A general infancy of plants, of animals, of ele 
ments, would have spread an air of dulness and languor through 
out the world, and stripped it of all* poetical inspiration. But 
God was not so unskilful a designer of the groves of Eden as 
infidels pretend. Man, the lord 6f the earth, was ushered into 
life with the maturity of thirty years, that the majesty of his be 
ing might accord with the antique grandeur of his new empire; 
and in like manner his partner, doubtless, shone in all the bloom 
ing graces of female beauty when she was formed from Adam, 
that she might be in unison with the flowers and the birds, with 
innocence and love, and with all the youthful part of the universe. 






ONE of the principal doctrines of Christianity yet remains to 
be examined; that is, the state of rewards and punishments in 
another life. But we cannot enter upon this important subject 
without first speaking of the two pillars which support the edifice 
of all the religions in the world the existence of God, and the 
immortality of the soul. 

These topics are, moreover, suggested by the natural develop 
ment of our subject; since it is only after having followed Faith 
here below that we can accompany her to those heavenly man 
sions to which she speeds her flight on leaving the earth. Ad 
hering scrupulously to our plan, we shall banish all abstract ideas 
from our proofs of the existence of God and the immortality of the 
soul, and shall employ only such arguments as may be derived from 
poetical and sentimental considerations, or, in other words, from 
the wonders of nature and the moral feelings. Plato and Cicero 
among the ancients, Clarke and Leibnitz among the moderns, 
have metaphysically, and almost mathematically, demonstrated the 
existence of a Supreme Being, 1 while the brightest geniuses in 
every age have admitted this consoling dogma. If it is rejected 
by certain sophists, God can exist just as well without their 
suffrage- Death alone, to which atheists would reduce all things, 
stands in need of defenders to vindicate its rights, since it has 
but little reality for man. Let us leave it, then, its deplorable 
partisans, who are not even agreed among themselves ; for if they 
who believe in Providence concur in the principal points of their 
doctrine, they, on the contrary, who deny the Creator, are involved 

See note L. 


in everlasting disputes concerning the basis of their nothingness. 
They have before them an abyss. To fill it up, they want only 
the foundation-stone, but they are at a loss where to procure it. 
Such, moreover, is the essential character of error, that when this 
error is not our own it instantly shocks and disgusts us; hence 
th 3 interminable quarrels among atheists. 



THERE is a God. The plants of the valley and the cedars of 
the mountain bless his name; the insect hums his praise; the 
elephant salutes him with the rising day; the bird glorifies him 
among the foliage; the lightning bespeaks his power, and the 
ocean declares his immensity. Man alone has said, " There is no 

Has he then in adversity never raised his eyes toward heaven ? 
has he in prosperity never cast them on the earth ? Is Nature so 
far from him that he has not been able to contemplate its won 
ders; or does he consider them as the mere result of fortuitous 
causes / But how could chance have compelled crude and stub 
born materials to arrange themselves in such exquisite order? 

It might be asserted that man is the idea of God displayed, 
and the universe his imagination made manifest. They who 
have admitted the beauty of nature as a proof of a supreme 
intelligence, ought to have pointed out a truth which greatly 
enlarges the sphere of wonders. It is this : motion and rest, 
darkness and light, the seasons, the revolutions of the heavenly 
bodies, which give variety to the decorations of the world, are 
successive only in appearance, and permanent in reality. The 
scene that fades upon our view is painted in brilliant colors 
for another people ; it is not the spectacle that is changed, but 
the spectator. Thus God has combined in his work absolute 
duration and progressive duration. The first is placed in time, 
the second in space ; by means of the former, the beauties of the 
universe are one, infinite, and invariable ; by means of the latter, 


they are multiplied, finite, and perpetually renewed. Without 
the one, there would be no grandeur in the creation; without 
the other, it would exhibit nothing but dull uniformity. 

Here time appears to us in a new point of view ; the smallest 
of its fractions becomes a complete whole, which comprehends 
all things, and in which all things transpire, from the death of 
an insect to the birth of a world; each minute is in itself a little 
eternity. Combine, then, at the same moment, in imagination, 
the most beautiful incidents of nature; represent to yourself at 
once all the hours of the day and all the seasons of the year, a 
spring morning and an autumnal morning, a night spangled with 
stars and a night overcast with clouds, meadows enamelled with 
flowers, forests stripped by the frosts, and fields glowing with 
their golden harvests; you will then have a just idea of the 
prospect of the universe. While you are gazing with admiration 
upon the sun sinking beneath the western arch, another beholds 
it emerging from the regions of Aurora. By what inconceivable 
magic does it come, that this aged luminary, which retires to rest, 
as if weary and heated, in the dusky arms of night, is at the 
very same moment that youthful orb which awakes bathed in 
dew, and sparkling through the gray curtains of the dawn ? 
Every moment of the day the sun is rising, glowing at his zenith, 
and setting on the world ; or rather our senses deceive us, and 
there is no real sunrise, noon, or sunset. The whole is reduced 
to a fixed point, from which the orb of day emits, at one and the 
same time, three lights from one single substance. This triple 
splendor is perhaps the most beautiful incident in nature; for, 
while it affords an idea of the perpetual magnificence and omni 
presence of God, it exhibits a most striking image of his glorious 

We cannot conceive what a scene of confusion nature would 
present if it were abandoned to the sole movements of matter. 
The clouds, obedient to the laws of gravity, would fall perpen 
dicularly upon the earth, or ascend in pyramids into the air ; a 
moment afterward the atmosphere would be too dense or too 
rarefied for the organs of respiration. The moon, either too near 
or too distant, would at one time be invisible, at another would 
appear bloody and covered with enormous spots, or would alone 
fill the whole celestial concave with her disproportionate orb. 


Seized, as it were, with a strange kind of madness, she would 
pass from one eclipse to another, or, rolling from side to side, 
would exhibit that portion of her surface which earth has never 
yet beheld. The stars would appear to be under the influence 
of the same capricious power ; and nothing would be seen but a 
succession of tremendous conjunctions. One of the summer 
signs would be speedily overtaken by one of the signs of winter ; 
the Cow-herd would lead the Pleiades, and the Lion would roar 
in Aquarius ; here the stars would dart along with the rapidity 
of lightning, there they would be suspended motionless; some 
times, crowding together in groups, they would form a new ga 
laxy; at others, disappearing all at once, and, to use the expression 
of Tertullian, rending the curtain of the universe, they would 
expose to view the abysses of eternity. 

No such appearances, however, Will strike terror into the breast 
of man, until the day when the Almighty will drop the reins of 
the world, employing for its destruction no other means than to 
leave it to itself. 



PASSING from general to particular considerations, let us exa 
mine whether the different parts of the universe exhibit the 
same wisdom that is so plainly expressed in the whole. We shall 
here avail ourselves of the testimony of a class of men, benefac 
tors alike of science and of humanity : we mean the professors 
of the medical art. 

Doctor Nieuwentyt, in his Treatise on the Existence of God* 
has undertaken to demonstrate the reality of final causes. With* 
out following him through all his observations, we shall content 
ourselves with adducing a few of them. 

1 In all the passages here quoted from the treatise of Nieuwentyt, we have 
taken the liberty of altering the language and giving a higher coloring to his 
subject. The doctor is learned, intelligent, and judicious, but dry. We have 
also added some observations of our own. 


In treating of the four elements, which he considers in their 
harmonies with man and the creation in general, he shows, in 
respect to air, how our bodies are marvellously preserved beneath 
an atmospheric column, equal in its pressure to a weight of 
twenty thousand pounds. He proves that the change of one 
single quality, either as to rarefaction or density, in the element 
we breathe, would be sufficient to destroy every living creature. 
It is the air that causes the smoke to ascend ; it is the air that 
retains liquids in vessels ; by its agitation it purifies the heavens, 
and wafts to the continents the clouds of the ocean. 

He then demonstrates, by a multitude of experiments, the ne 
cessity of water. Who can behold, without astonishment, the 
wonderful quality of this element, by which it ascends, contrary 
to all the laws of gravity, in an element lighter than itself, in 
order to supply us with rain and dew ? He considers the arrange 
ment of mountains, so as to give a circulation to rivers; the 
topography of these mountains in islands and on the main land ; 
the outlets of gulfs, bays, and mediterranean waters; the innu 
merable advantages of seas : nothing escapes the attention of this 
good and learned man. In the same manner he unfolds the ex 
cellence of the earth as an element, and its admirable laws as a 
planet. He likewise describes the utility of fire, and the exten 
sive aid it has afforded in the various departments of human 
industry. 1 

When he passes to animals, he observes that those which we 
call domestic come into the world with precisely that degree of 
instinct which is necessary in order to tame them, while others 
that are unserviceable to man never lose their natural wildness. 
Can it be chance that inspires the gentle and useful animals with 
the disposition to live together in our fields, and prompts ferocious 
beasts to roam by themselves in unfrequented places? Why 
should not flocks of tigers be led by the sound of the shepherd s 
fife? Why should not a colony of lions be seen frisking in our 
parks, among the wild thyme and the dew, like the little animals 
celebrated by La Fontaine ? Those ferocious beasts could never 
be employed for any other purpose than to draw the car of some 

1 Modern physics may correct some errors in this part of his work ; but the 
progress of that science, so far from conflicting with the doctrine of final causes, 
furnishes new proofs of the bounty of Providence. 


triumphant warrior, as cruel as themselves, or to devour Chris 
tians in an amphitheatre. 1 Alas ! tigers are never civilized among 
men, but men oftentimes assume the savage disposition of the 
tiger ! 

The observations of Nieuwentyt on the qualities of birds are 
not less interesting. Their wings, convex above and concave 
underneath, are oars perfectly adapted to the element they are 
designed to cleave. The wren, that delights in hedges of thorn 
and arbutus, which to her are extensive deserts, is provided with 
a double eyelid, to preserve its sight from every kind of injury. 
But how admirable are the contrivances of nature ! this eyelid is 
transparent, and the little songstress of the cottage can drop this 
wonderful veil without being deprived of sight. Providence 
kindly ordained that she should not lose her way when conveying 
the drop of water or the grain of millet to her nest, and that her 
little family beneath the bush should not pine at her absence. 

And what ingenious springs move the feet of birds ? It is not 
by a play of the muscles which their immediate will determines, 
that they hold themselves firm on a branch : their feet are so 
constructed, that, when they are pressed in the centre or at the 
heel, the toes naturally grasp the object which presses against 
them. 3 From this mechanism it follows that the claws of a bird 
adhere more or less firmly to the object on which it alights, as the 
motion of that object is more or less rapid ; for. in the waving of 
the branch, either the branch presses against the foot or the foot 
against the branch, and in either case there results a more forcible 
contraction of the claws. When in the winter season, at the ap 
proach of night, we see ravens perched on the leafless summit of 
the oak, we imagine that it is only by continual watchfulness and 
attention, and with incredible fatigue, they can maintain their 
position amid the howling tempest and the obscurity of night- 
The truth, however, is, that unconscious of danger, and defying the 
storm, they sleep amid the war of winds. Boreas himself fixes 
them to the branch from which we every moment expect to see 
them hurled ; and, like the veteran mariner whose hammock is 

1 The reader is acquainted with the cry of the Roman populace : "Away with 
the Christians to the lions !" See Tertullian s Apology. 

2 The truth of this observation may be ascertained by an experiment on the 
foot of a dead bird. 


slung to the masts of a vessel, the more they are rocked by the 
hurricane the more profound are their slumbers. 

With respect to the organization of fishes, their very existence 
in the watery element, and the relative change in their weight, 
which enables them to float in water of greater or less gravity, 
and to descend from the surface to the lowest depths of the abyss, 
are perpetual wonders. The fish is a real hydrostatic machine, 
displaying a thousand phenomena by means of a small 
which it empties or replenishes with air at pleasure. 

The flowering of plants, and the use of the leaves and roots, 
are also prodigies which afford Nieuwentyt a curious subject of 
investigation. He makes this striking observation : that the seeds 
of plants are so disposed by their figure and weight as to fall in 
variably upon the ground in the position which is favorable to 

Now if all things were the production of chance, would nol 
some change be occasionally witnessed in the final causes? Why 
should there not be fishes without the air-bladder, which gives 
them the faculty of floating? And why would not the eaglet, 
that as yet has no need of weapons, have its shell broken by the 
bill of a dove? But, strange to relate, there is never any mis 
take or accident of this sort in blind nature ! In whatever way 
you throw the dice, they always turn up the same numbers. This 
is a strange fortune, and we strongly suspect that before it drew 
the world from the urn of eternity it had already secretly arranged 
the lot of every thing. 

But, are there not monsters in nature, and do they not afford 
instances of a departure from the final cause ? True ; but take 
notice that these beings inspire us with horror, so powerful is the 
instinct of the Deity in man so easily is he shocked when he 
does not perceive in an object the impress of his Supreme Intel 
ligence ! Some have pretended to derive from these irregulari 
ties an objection against Providence; but we consider them, on 
the contrary, as a manifest confirmation of that very Providence 
In our opinion, Grod has permitted this distortion of matter ex 
pressly for the purpose of teaching us what the creation would 
be without Him. It is the shadow that gives greater effect to 
the light a specimen of those laws of chance which, according 
to atheists, brought forth the universe. 




HAVING discovered in the organization of beings a regular 
plan, which cannot possibly be ascribed to chance, and which pre 
supposes a directing mind, we will pass to the examination of 
other final causes, which are neither less prolific nor less wonder 
ful than the preceding. Here we shall present the result of our 
own investigations, of a study which we would never have inter 
rupted had not Providence called us to other occupations. We 
were desirous, if possible, of producing a Religious Natural His 
tory, in opposition to all those modern scientific works in which 
mere matter is considered. That we might not be contemptu 
ously reproached with ignorance, we resolved to travel, and to see 
every object with our own eyes. We shall, therefore, introduce 
some of our observations on the different instincts of animals and 
of plants, on their habits, migrations, and loves. The field of 
nature cannot be exhausted. We always find there a new har 
vest. It is not in a menagerie, where the secrets of God are 
kept encaged, that we acquire a knowledge of the divine wisdom. 
To become deeply impressed with its existence, we must contem 
plate it in the deserts. How can a man return an infidel from 
the regions of solitude ? Wo to the traveller who, after making 
the circuit of the globe, would come back an atheist to the pater 
nal roof! Was it possible for us, when we penetrated at midnight 
into the solitary vale inhabited by beavers and overshadowed by 
the fir-tree, and where reigned a profound silence under the mild 
glare of the moon, as peaceful as the people whose labors it illu 
mined was it possible for us not to discover in this valley some 
trace of a divine Intelligence? Who, then, placed the square 
and the level in the eye of that animal which has the sagacity to 
construct a dam, shelving toward the water and perpendicular 
on the opposite side? What philosopher taught this singular 
engineer the laws of hydraulics, and made him so expert with his 
incisive teeth and his flattened tail ? Reaumur never foretold the 
i K 


vicissitudes of the seasons with the accuracy of this same beaver, 
whose stores, more or less copious, indicate in the month of June 
the longer or shorter duration of the ices of January. Alas ! by 
questioning the divine Omnipotence, men have struck with ste 
rility all the works of the Almighty. Atheism has extinguished 
with its icy breath the lire of nature which it undertook to kin 
dle. In breathing upon creation, it has enveloped it in its own 
characteristic darkness. 

There are other facts connected with animal instinct, which, 
though more common, and falling daily under our observation, are 
not the less wonderful. The hen, for instance, which is so timid, 
assumes the courage of a lion when it is question of defending 
her young. How interesting to behold her solicitude and excite 
ment when, deceived by the treasures of another nest, little 
strangers escape from her, and hasten to sport in the neighboring 
lake ! The terrified mother runs round the brink, claps her 
wings, calls back her imprudent brood, sometimes entreating with 
tenderness, sometimes clucking with authority. She walks hastily 
on, then pauses, turns her head with anxiety, and is not pacified 
till she has collected beneath her wings her weakly and dripping 
family, which will soon give her fresh cause of alarm. 

Among the various instincts which the Master of life has dis 
pensed throughout the animal world, one of the most extraordi 
nary is that which leads the fishes from the icy regions of the 
pole to a milder latitude, which they find without losing their 
way over the vast desert of the ocean, and appear punctually in 
the river where their union is to be celebrated. Spring, directed 
by the Sovereign of the seas, prepares on our shores the nuptial 
pomp. She crowns the willows with verdure; she covers the 
grottos with moss, and expands on the surface of the waves the 
foliage of the water-lily, to serve as curtains to these beds of 
crystal. Scarcely are these preparations completed, when the 
scaly tribes make their appearance. These foreign navigators 
animate all our shores. Some, like light bubbles of air, ascend 
perpendicularly from the bosom of the deep; others gently ba 
lance themselves on the waves, or diverge from one common cen 
tre, like innumerable stripes of gold. These dart their gliding 
forms obliquely through the azure fluid; those sleep in a sunbeam 
which penetrates the silvery gauze of the billows. Perpetually 


wandering to and fro, they swim, they dive, they turti round, they 
form into squadrons, they separate and rgain unite; and the in 
habitant of the seas, endued with the breath of life, follows with 
a bound the fiery track left for him by his beloved in the waves. 



NATURE has her seasons of festivity, for which she assembles 
musicians frT>m all the regions of the globe. Skilful performers 
with their wondrous sonatas, itinerant minstrels who can only sing 
short ballads, pilgrims who repeat a thousand and a thousand 
times the couplets of their long solemn songs, are beheld flocking 
together from all quarters. The thrush whistles, the swallow 
twitters, the ringdove coos: the first, perched on the topmost 
branch of an elm, defies our solitary blackbird, who is in no 
respect inferior to the stranger; the second, lodged under some 
hospitable roof, utters his confused cries, as in the days of Evan- 
der; the third, concealed amid the foliage of an oak, prolongs her 
soft meanings like the undulating sound of a horn in the forests. 
The redbreast, meanwhile, repeats her simple strain on the barn 
door, where she has built her compact and mossy nest; but the 
nightingale disdains to waste her lays amid this symphony. She 
waits till night has imposed silence, and takes upon herself that 
portion of the festival which is celebrated in its shades. 

When the first silence of night and the last murmurs of day 
struggle for the mastery on the hills, on the banks of the rivers, 
in the woods and in the valleys; when the forests have hushed 
their thousand voices; when not a whisper is heard among the 
leaves ; when the moon is high in the heavens, and the ear of 
man is all attention, then Philomela, the first songstress of crea 
tion, begins her hymn to the Eternal. She first strikes the echoes 
with lively bursts of pleasure. Disorder pervades her strains. 
She pusses abruptly from flat to sharp, from soft to loud. She 


pauses; now she is slow and now quick. It is the expression of 
a heart intoxicated with joy-a heart palpitating under the pre 
sure of love. But her voice suddenly fails. The bird i 
She begins again ; but how changed are her accents ! What ten- 
der melody ! Sometimes you hear a languid modulation, thou 
varied in its form; sometimes a tune more monotonous, like the 
chorus of our ancient ballads those master-pieces of simplicity 
and melancholy. Singing is as often an expression of sadness as 
of joy. The bird that has lost her young still sings, 
repeats the notes of her happy days, for she knows no other ; but, 
by a stroke of her art, the musician has merely changed her key, 
and the song of pleasure is converted into the lamentation of grief. 
It would be very gratifying to those who seek to disinherit man 
and to snatch from him the empire of nature, if they could prove 
that nothing has been made for him. But the song W birds, for 
example, is ordained so expressly for our ears, that in vain we 
persecute these tenants of the woods, in vain we rob them of their 
nests, pursue, wound, and entangle them in snares. We may give 
them the acutest pain, but we cannot compel them to be silent. 
In spite of OUT cruelty, they cannot forbear to charm us, as they 
are obliged to fulfil the decree of Providence. When held cap 
tives in our houses, they multiply their notes. There must bo 
some secret harmony in adversity; for all the victims of misfov- 
tune are inclined to sing. Even when the bird-catcher, with a 
refinement of barbarity, scoops out the eyes of a nightingale, it 
has the extraordinary effect of rendering his voice still more me 
lodious. This Homer of the feathered tribes earns a subsistence 
by singing, and composes his most enchanting airs after he has 
lost his sight. " Demodocus," says the poet of Chios, describing 
himself in the person of the Phaeacian bard, " was beloved by the 
Muse ; but she bestowed upon him the good and the bad. She 
deprived him of the blessing of sight, but she gave him the 
sweetness of song." 

Tov mpt povi <pi\r]ff, hfav <5 ayaSov re, KUKOVTC, 
O^a\fjiwv ptv, a^pac, <55ou 6 rj^eiav aoibr]v. 

The bird seems to be the true emblem of the Christian here 
below. Like him, it prefers solitude to the world, heaven to earth, 
and its voice is ever occupied in celebrating the wonders of the 
Creator, There are certain laws relative to the cries of animals, 


which we believe have not yet been observed, though they are 
highly deserving of notice. The varied language of the inhabit 
ants of the desert appears to be adapted to the grandeur or the 
charms of the places in which they live, and to the hours of the 
day at which they make their appearance. The roaring of the 
lion, loud, rough, and harsh, is in accordance with the burning 
regions, where it is heard at sunset; while the lowing of our 
cattle charms the rural echoes of our valleys. The bleating of 
the goat has in it something tremulous and wild, like the rocks 
and ruins among which he loves to climb ; the warlike horse 
imitates the shrill sound of the clarion, and, as if sensible that he 
was not made for rustic occupations, he is silent under the lash 
of the husbandman, and neighs beneath the bridle of the warrior. 
Night, according as it is pleasant or gloomy, brings forth the 
nightingale or the owl ; the one seems to sing for the zephyrs, 
the groves, the moon, and for lovers; the other hoots for the 
winds, aged forests, darkness, and death. In short, almost all 
carnivorous animals have a particular cry, which resembles that 
of their prey : the sparrow-hawk squeaks like the rabbit and 
mews like a kitten ; the cat herself has a kind of whining tone 
like that of the little birds of our gardens; the wolf bleats, lows, 
or barks; the fox clucks or cries; the tiger imitates the bellow 
ing of the bull ; and the sea-bear has a kind of frightful roar, like 
the noise of the breakers among which he seeks his prey. The 
law of which we speak is very astonishing, and perhaps conceals 
some tremendous secret. We may observe that monsters among 
men follow the same law as carnivorous animals. There have 
been many instances of tyrants who exhibited some mark of sen 
sibility in their countenance and voice, and who affected the lan 
guage of the unhappy creatures whose destruction they were me 
ditating. Providence, however, has ordained that we should not 
be absolutely deceived by men of this savage character : we have 
only to examine them closely, to discover, under the garb of mild 
ness, an air of falsehood and rapacity a thousand times more 
hideous than their fury itself. 





How admirably is the providence of the great Creator displayed 
in the nests of birds ! Who can contemplate without emotion 
this divine beneficence, which imparts industry to the weak and 
foresight to the thoughtless ? 

No sooner have the trees expanded their first blossoms, than a 
thousand diminutive artisans begin their labors on every side. 
Some convey long straws into the hole of an ancient wall; others 
construct buildings in the windows of a church; others, again, 
rob the horse of his hair, or carry off the wool torn by the jagged 
thorn from the back of the sheep. There wood-cutters arrange 
small twigs in the waving summit of a tree; here spinsters col 
lect silk from a thistle. A thousand palaces are reared, and 
every palace is a nest ; while each nest witnesses the most pleas 
ing changes; first a brilliant egg, then a young one covered with 
down. This tender nestling becomes fledged; his mother in 
structs him by degrees to rise up on his bed. He soon acquires 
strength to perch on the edge of his cradle, from which he takes 
the first survey of nature. With mingled terror and transport, 
he drops down among his brothers and sisters, who have not yet 
beheld this magnificent sight; but, summoned by the voice of his 
parents, he rises a second time from his couch, and this youthful 
monarch of the air, whose head is still encircled by the crown of 
infancy, already ventures to contemplate the waving summits of 
the pines and the abysses of verdure beneath the paternal oak. 
But, while the forests welcome with pleasure their new guest, 
some aged bird, who feels his strength forsake him, alights beside 
the current; there, solitary and resigned, he patiently awaits 
death, on the brink of the same stream where he sang his first 
loves, and beneath the trees which still bear his nest and his har 
monious posterity. 

We will notice here another law of nature. Among the 
smaller species of birds, the eggs are comironly tinged with one 


of the prevailing colors of the male. The bullfinch builds in the 
hawthorn, the gooseberry, and other bushes of our gardens; her 
eggs are slate-colored, like the plumage of her back. We recol 
lect having once found one of these nests in a rose-bush : it re- 
sembled a shell of mother-of-pearl containing four blue gems; a 
rose, bathed in the dews of morning, was suspended above it: 
the male bullfinch sat motionless on a neighboring shrub, like a 
flower of purple and azure. These objects were reflected in the 
water of a stream, together with the shade of an aged walnut- 
tree, which served as a back-ground to the scene, and behind 
which appeared the ruddy tints of the morning. In this little 
picture the Almighty presented us an idea of .the graces with 
which he has decked all nature. 

Among the larger birds the law respecting the color of the egg 
varies. We are of opinion that, in general, the egg is white 
among those birds the male of which has several females,^ or 
among those whose plumage has no fixed color for the species. 
Among those which frequent the waters and forests, and build 
their nests on the sea or on the summits of lofty trees, the egg is 
generally of a bluish green, and, as it were, of the same tint as 
the elements by which it is surrounded. Certain birds, which 
reside on the tops of ancient and deserted towers, have green eggs 
like ivy, 1 or reddish like the old buildings they inhabit. 3 It is, 
therefore, a law, which may be considered as invariable, that the 
bird exhibits in her egg an emblem of her loves, her habits, and 
her destinies. The mere inspection of this brittle monument will 
almost enable us to determine to what tribe it belonged, what were 
its dress, habits, and tastes ; whether it passed its days amid the 
dangers of the sea, or, more fortunate, among the charms of a pas 
toral life; whether it was tame or wild, and inhabited the moun 
tain or the valley. The antiquary of the forest is conducted by 
a science much less equivocal than the antiquary of the city: a 
scathed oak, with all its mosses, proclaims much more plainly the 
hand that gave it existence than a ruined column declares by 
what architect it was reared. Among men, tombs are so many 
leaves of their history; Nature, on the contrary, records her facts 
on living tablets. She has no need of granite or marble to per- 

The jack-daw and others. 2 The white owl, Ac. 


petuate her writings. Time has destroyed the annals of the 
sovereigns of Memphis, once inscribed on their funereal pyra 
mids, but has it been able to efface a single letter of the history 
marked on the egg-shell of the Egyptian ibis ? 




THE reader is acquainted with the following charming lines of 
the younger Racine on the migration of birds : 

Ceux qui, de nos hivers redoutant le courroux, 
Vont se reTugier dans des climats plus doux, 
Ne laisseront jamais la saison rigoureuse 
Surprendre parmi nous leur troupe paresseuse. 
Dans un sage conseil par les chefs assemble, 
Du depart general le grand jour est regie; 
II arrive; tout part; le plus jeune peut-Stre 
Demande, en regardant les lieux qui 1 ont vu naitre, 
Quand viendra le printemps par qui tant d exiles 
Dans les champs paternels se verront rappeles! 1 

We have known unfortunate persons whose eyes would be suf 
fused with tears in reading the concluding lines. The exile pre 
scribed by nature is not like that which is ordered by man. If 
the bird is sent away for a moment, it is only for its own advan 
tage. It sets out with its neighbors, its parents, its sisters and 
brothers; it leaves nothing behind; it carries with it all the ob 
jects of its affection. In the desert it finds a subsistence and a 
habitation; the forests are not armed against it; and it returns, 
at last, to die on the spot which gave it birth. There it finds again 
the river, the tree, the nest, and the sun, of its forefathers. But 

1 Those which, dreading the rigors of our winters, repair to a more genial 
climate, will never suffer their tardy troop to be overtaken by the inclement 
season. Assembled in prudent council by their chiefs, the great day of their 
general departure is fixed. It arrives; the whole tribe departs : the youngest 
perhaps inquires, while he casts his eyes over his native fields, when spring 
will arrive, to recall so many exiles to their paternal plains. 


is the mortal, driven from his native home, sure of revisiti ig it 
again ? Alas ! man, in coming into the world, knows not what 
corner of the earth will collect his ashes, nor in what direction 
the breath of misfortune will scatter them. Happy still, indeed, 
if he only could expire in peace. But no sooner does fortune 
frown upon him than he becomes an object of persecution; and 
the particular injustice which he suffers becomes general. He 
finds not, like the bird, hospitality in his way; he knocks, but no 
one opens; he has no place to rest his weary limbs, except, per 
haps, the post on the highway, or the stone that marks the limit 
of some plantation. But sometimes he is denied even this place 
of repose, which would seem to belong to no one; he is forced 
onward, and the proscription which has banished him from his 
country seems to have expelled him from the world. He dies, 
and has none to bury him. His corpse lies forsaken on its hard 
couch, whence the commissioner is obliged to have it removed, 
not as the body of a man, but as a nuisance dangerous to the 
living. Ah ! how much happier, did he expire in a ditch neai the 
way-side, that the good Samaritan might throw, as he passes, a 
little foreign earth upon his remains ! Let us place all our hope in 
heaven, and we shall no longer be afraid of exile : in religion we 
invariably find a country ! 

While one part of the creation daily publishes in the same 
place the praises of the Creator, another travels from one country 
to another to relate his wonders. Couriers traverse the air, glide 
through the waters, and speed their course over mountains and 
valleys. Some, borne on the wings of spring, show themselves 
among us; then, disappearing with the zephyrs, follow their mova 
ble country from climate to climate. Others repair to the habi 
tation of man, as travellers from distant climes, and claim the 
rio-hts of ancient hospitality. Each follows his inclination in the 
choice of a spot. The redbreast applies at the cottage ; the swal 
low knocks at the palace of royal descent. She still seems to 
court an appearance of grandeur, but of grandeur melancholy 
like her fate. She passes the summer amid the ruins of Ver 
sailles and the winter among those of Tlu bes. 

Scarcely has she disappeared when we behold a colony advanc 
ing upon the winds of the north, to supply the place of the tra 
vellers to the south, that no vacancy may be left in our fields. On 


some hoary day of autumn, when the northeast wind is sweeping 
over the plains and the woods are losing the last remains of their 
foliage, you will see a flock of wild ducks, all ranged in a line, 
traversing in silence the sombre sky. If they perceive, while 
aloft in the air, some Gothic castle surrounded by marshes and 
forests, it is there they prepare to descend. They wait till 
night, making long evolutions over the woods. Soon as the 
vapors of eve enshroud the valley, with outstretched neck and 
whizzing wing they suddenly alight on the waters, which resound 
with their noise. A general cry, succeeded by profound silence, 
rises from the marshes. Guided by a faint light, which perhaps 
gleams through the narrow window of a tower, the travellers ap 
proach its walls under the protection of the reeds and the dark 
ness. There, clapping their wings and screaming at intervals, 
amid the murmur of the winds and the rain, they salute the habi 
tation of man. 

One of the handsomest among the inhabitants of these soli 
tudes is the water-hen. Her peregrinations, however, are not so 
distant. She appears on the border of the sedges, buries herself 
in their labyrinths, appears and vanishes again, uttering a low, 
wild cry. She is seen walking along the ditches of the castle, 
and is fond of perching on the coats of arms sculptured on the 
walls. When she remains motionless upon them, you would take 
her, with her sable plumage and the white patch on her head, for 
a heraldic bird, fallen from the escutcheon of an ancient knight. 
At the approach of spring, she retires to unfrequented streams. 
The root of some willow that has been undermined by the waters 
affords an asylum to the wanderer. She there conceals herself 
from every eye, to accomplish the grand law of nature. The con 
volvulus, the mosses, the water maidenhair, suspend a verdant 
drapery before her nest. The cress and the lentil supply her 
with a delicate food. The soft murmuring of the water soothes 
her ear; beautiful insects amuse her eye, and the Naiads of the 
stream, the more completely to conceal this youthful mother, 
plant around her their distaffs of reeds, covered with empurpled 

Among these travellers from the north, there are some that 
become accustomed to our manners, and refuse to return tc their 
native land Some, like the companions of Ulysses, are japti- 


vated by delicious fruits; others, like the deserters from the ves 
sels of the 1-ritish circumnavigator, are seduced by enchantresses 
that detain them in their islands. Most of them, however, leave 
us after a residence of a few months. They are attached to the 
winds and the storms which disturb the pellucid stream, and 
afford them that prey which would escape from them in transpa 
rent waters. They love wild and unexplored retreats, and make 
the circuit of the globe by a series of solitudes. 

Fitness for the scenes of nature, or adaptation to the wants of 
man, determines the different migrations of animals. The birds 
that appear in the months of storms have dismal voices and wild 
manners, like the season which brings them. They come not to 
be heard, but to listen. There is something in the dull roaring 
of the woods that charms their ear. The trees which mournfully 
wave their leafless summits are covered only with the sable le 
gions which have associated for the winter. They have their 
sentinels and their advanced guards. Frequently a crow that has 
seen a hundred winters, the ancient Sybil of the deserts; remains 
perched on an oak which has grown old with herself. There, 
while all her sisters maintain a profound silence, motionless, and, 
as it were, full of thought, she delivers prophetic sounds to 
the winds. 

It is worthy of remark that the teal, the goose, the duck, the 
woodcock, the plover, the lapwing, which serve us for food, all 
arrive when the earth is bare; while, on the contrary, the foreign 
birds, which visit us in the season of fruits, administer only to 
our pleasures. They are musicians sent to enhance the joy of 
our banquets. We must, however, except a few, such as the 
quail and the wood-pigeon, (though the season for taking them 
does not commence till after the harvest,) which fatten on our 
corn, that they may afterward supply our table. Thus the birds 
of winter are the manna of the rude northern blasts, as the night 
ingales are the gift of the zephyrs. From whatever point of the 
compass the wind may blow, it fails not to bring us a present 
from Providence. 




THE goose and the duck, being domestic animals, are capable 
of living wherever man can exist. Navigators have found innu 
merable battalions of these birds under the antarctic pole itself, 
and on the coasts of New Zealand. We have ourselves met 
with thousands, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the extremity 
of Florida. We beheld one day, in the Azores, a company of 
little -bluebirds, of the species of teal, that were compelled by 
fatigue to alight on a wild fig-tree. The tree had no leaves, but 
its red fruit hung chained together in pairs like crystals. When 
it was covered by this flock of birds, that dropped their weary 
wings, it exhibited a very pleasing appearance. The fruit, sus 
pended from the shadowed branches, seemed to have the color of 
a brilliant purple, while the tree appeared all at once clothed with 
the richest foliage of azure. 

Sea-fowl have places of rendezvous where you would imagine 
they were deliberating in common on the affairs of their republic. 
. These places are commonly the rocks in the midst of the waves. 
In the island of St. Pierre, 1 we used often to station ourselves on 
the coast opposite to an islet called by the natives Cohmbier, 
(Pigeon-house, ) on account of its form, and because they repair 
thither in spring for the purpose of gathering eggs. 

The multitude of birds that assemble on that rock was so great 
that we could frequently distinguish their cries amid the howl- 
ings of the tempests. These birds had an extraordinary voice, 
resembling the sounds that issued from the sea. If the ocean 
has its Flora, it has likewise its Philomela. When the curlew 
whistles at sunset on the point of some rock, accompanied by the 
hollow murmur of the billows, which forms the bass to the con 
cert, it produces one of the most melancholy harmonies that can 

At the entrance of the Gul rf St. Lawrence, on the coast of Newfoundland. 

SEA-FOWL. 157 

possibly be conceived Never did the wife of Ceix breathe forth 
such lamentations on the shores that witnessed her misfortunes. 

The best understanding prevailed in the republic of Colombier. 
Immediately after the birth of a citizen, his mother precipitated 
him into the waves, like those barbarous nations who plunged 
their children into the river to inure them to the fatigues of life. 
Couriers were incessantly despatched from this Tyre with nu 
merous attendants, who, under the direction of Providence, 
sought different points in the ocean, for the guidance of the mari 
ner! Some, stationed at the distance of forty or fifty leagues 
from an unknown land, serve as a certain indication to the pilot, 
who discovers them like corks floating on the waves. Others 
settle on a reef, and in the night these vigilant sentinels raise their 
doleful voices to warn the navigator to stand off; while others, 
again, by the whiteness of their plumage, form real beacons upon 
the black surface of the rocks. For the same reason, we pre 
sume, has the goodness of the Almighty given to the foam of the 
waves a phosphoric property, rendering it more luminous among 
breakers in proportion to the violence of the tempest. How 
many vessels would perish amid the darkness were it not for 
these wonderful beacons kindled by Providence on the rocks^! 

All the accidents of the seas, the flux and reflux of the tide, 
and the alternations of calm and storm, are predicted by birds. 
The thrush alights on a desolate shore, draws her neck under her 
plumage, conceals one foot in her down, and, standing motionless , 
on the other, apprises the fisherman of the moment when the bil 
lows are rising. The sea-lark, skimming the surface of the wave, 
and uttering a soft and melancholy cry, announces, on the con 
trary, the moment of their reflux. Lastly, the little storm -bird 
stations herself in the midst of the ocean. 1 This faithful com 
panion of the mariner follows the course of ships and predicts 
the storm. The sailor ascribes to her something sacred, and reli- 

1 The procellaria, or stormy-petrel, is about the size and form of the house- 
svrallow. Except in breeding time, these birds are always at sea, and are seen 
on the wing all over the vast Atlantic Ocean, at the greatest distance from any 
land. They presage bad weather, whence they take their name, and they cau 
tion sailors of the approach of a storm by collecting under the stern of the ship. 
This bird braves the utmost fury of the tempest, sometimes skimming with in 
credible velocity along the hollow and sometimes on the summit of the waves. 


giously fulfils the duties of hospitality when the violence of the 
wind tosses her on board his vessel. In like manner, the hus- 
bauduian pays respect to the red-breast, which predicts tine wea- 
ti er. In like manner, he receives him beneath his thatch during 
the intense cold of winter. These men, placed in the two most 
laborious conditions of life, have friends whom Providence has 
prepared for them. From a feeble animal they receive counsel 
and hope, which they would often seek in vain among their fellow- 
creatures. This reciprocity of benefits between little birds and 
men struggling through the world, is one of those pleasing inci 
dents which abound in the works of God. Between the red 
breast and the husbandman, between the storm-bird and the sailor, 
there is a resemblance of manners and of fortunes exceedingly 
affecting. Oh, how dry and unmeaning is nature when explained 
by the sophist! but how significant and interesting to the simple 
heart that investigates her wonders with no other view than to 
glorify the Creator! 

If time and place permitted, we would have many other migra 
tions to describe, many other secrets of Providence to reveal. We 
would treat of the cranes of Florida, whose wings produce such 
harmonious sounds, and which steer their flight so beautifully 
over lakes, savannas, and groves of orange and palm-trees; we 
would exhibit the pelican of the woods, visiting the solitary dead, 
and stopping only at Indian cemeteries and hillocks of graves; 
we would state the reasons of these migrations, which have al 
ways some reference to man; we would mention the winds, the 
seasons chosen by the birds for changing their climate, the ad 
ventures they meet with, the obstacles they encounter, the disas 
ters they undergo; how they sometimes land on unknown coasts, 
far from the country to which they were bound ; how they perish 
on their passage over forests consumed by the lightnings of hea 
ven or plains fired by the hands of savages. 

In the early ages of the world, it was by the flowering of plants, 
the fall of the leaves, the departure and arrival of birds, that the 
husbandman and shepherd regulated their labors. Hence arose 
among certain people the art of divination ; for it was supposed 
that animals which predicted the seasons and tempests could be 
no other than tin interpreters of the Deity. The ancient natural 
ists and poete, tc whom we are indebted for the little simplicity 

SEA FOWL. 159 

that is left among us, show how wonderful was this mode of 
reckoning by the incidents of nature, and what a charm it dif 
fused over life. God is a profound secret; man, created in his 
image, is likewise incomprehensible; it was therefore perfectly 
consonant to the nature of things to see the periods of his days 
regulated by timekeepers as mysterious as himself. 

Beneath the tents of Jacob or of Booz, the arrival of a bird 
set every thing in motion : the patriarch made the tour of his 
encampment, at the head of his servants, provided with sickles; 
and if it was rumored that the young larks had been seen mak 
ing their first efforts to fly, the whole people, trusting in God, 
entered joyfully upon the harvest. These charming signs, while 
they directed the labors of the present season, had the advantage 
of predicting the changes of the succeeding ones. If the geese 
and the ducks appeared in great numbers, it was known with 
certainty that the winter would be long. If the crow began to 
build her nest in January, the shepherds expected in April the 
flowers of May. The marriage of a young female, on the margin 
of a fountain, had its relation with the blooming flowers ; and the 
aged, who often die in autumn, fell with the acorns and the ripe 
fruits. While the philosopher, curtailing or lengthening the 
year, made the winter encroach upon the domain of spring, the 
husbandman had no reason to apprehend that the bird or the 
flower, the astronomer sent him by Heaven, would lead him 
astray. He knew that the nightingale would not confound the 
month of frosts with that of roses, or warble the strains of sum 
mer at the winter solstice. Thus all the labors, all the diversions, 
all the pleasures of the countryman were regulated, not by the 
uncertain calendar of a philosopher, but by the infallible laws of 
Him who has traced the course of the sun. That supreme Di 
rector himself decreed that the festivals of his worship should be 
determined by the simple epochs borrowed from his own works; 
and hence, in those days of innocence, according to the season 
and occupations of men, it was the voice of the zephyr or the 
storm, of the eagle or the dove, that summoned them to the 
temple of the God of nature. 

Our peasants still make use occasionally of these charming 
tables, on which are engraven the seasons of rustic labor. The 
natives of India also have recourse to them, and the negroes and 


American savages retain the same method of computation. A 
Seminole of Florida will tell you that his daughter was married 
at the arrival of the humming-bird; his child died in the moult* 
ing season of the nonpareil; his mother had as many young 
warriors as there are eggs in the nest of the pelican. 

The savages of Canada mark the sixth hour after noon by the 
moment when the wood-pigeon repairs to the stream to drink, 
and the savages of Louisiana by that in which the day-fly issues 
from the waters. The passage of various birds regulates the sea 
son of the chase; and the time for reaping the crops of corn, 
maple-sugar, and wild oats, is announced by certain animals, 
which never fail to appear at the hour of the banquet. 



MIGRATION is more frequent among fishes and birds than 
among quadrupeds, on account of the multiplicity of the former, 
and the facility of their journeys through the two elements by 
which the earth is surrounded. There is nothing astonishing in 
all this but the certainty with which they reach the shores to 
which they are bound. It appears natural that an animal, driven 
by hunger, should leave the country he inhabits in search of food 
and shelter; but is it possible to conceive that matter causes him 
to arrive at one place rather than another, and conducts him, 
with wonderful precision, to the very spot, where this food and 
shelter are to be found ? How should he know the winds and 
the tides, the equinoxes and the solstices? We have no doubt 
that if the migratory tribes were abandoned for a single moment 
to their own instinct, they would almost all perish. Some, wish 
ing to pass to a colder climate, would reach the tropics; others, 
intending to proceed under the line, would wander to the poles. 
Our redbreasts, instead of passing over Alsace and Germany in 
search of little insects, would themselves become the prey of some 
enormous beetle in Africa; the Greenlander, attracted by a plain- 


live cry issuing from the rocks, would draw near, and find poor 
philomela in the agony of death. 

Such mistakes are not permitted by the Almighty. Every 
thing in nature has its harmonies and its relations : zephyrs ac 
cord with flowers, winter is suited to storms, and grief has its 
seat in the heart of man. The most skilful pilots will long miss 
the desired port before the fish mistakes the longitude of the 
smallest rock in the ocean. Providence is his polar star, and, 
whatever way he steers, he has constantly in view that luminary 
which never sets. 

The universe is like an immense inn, where all is in motion. 
You behold a multitude of travellers continually entering and 
departina^ In the migrations of quadrupeds, nothing perhaps 
can be c^Ppared to the journeys of the bisons across the immense 
prairies of Louisiana and New Mexico. 1 When the time has 
arrived for them to change their residence, and to dispense abun 
dance to savage nations, some aged buffalo, the patriarch of the 
herds of the desert, calls around him his sons and daughters. 
The rendezvous is on the banks of the Meschacebe ; the close of 
day is fixed for the time of their departure. This moment hav 
ing arrived, the leader, shaking his vast mane, which hangs down 
over his eyes and his curved horns, salutes the setting sun with 
an inclination of the head, at the same time raising his huge back 
like a mountain. With a deep, rumbling sound, he gives the 
signal for departure. Then, suddenly plunging into -the foaming 
waters, he is followed by the whole multitude of bulls and heifers, 
bellowing after him in the expression of their love. 

While this powerful family of quadrupeds is crossing with tre 
mendous uproar the rivers and forests, a peaceful squadron is 
seen moving silently over the solitary lake, with the aid of the 
starlight and a favorable breeze. It is a troop of small, black 
squirrels, that having stripped all the walnut trees of the vicinity, 
resolve to seek their fortune, and to embark for another forest. 
Raising their tails, and expanding them as silken sails to the 

1 The bison is the wild bull or ox, from which several races of common cattle 
are descended. It is found wild in many parts of the old and new continents, 
and is distinguished by its large size and the shagginess of its hair about the 
head, neck, and shoulders. In the western territories of the United State* 
*hey are seen in herds innumerable, intermixed with deer. 
14* L 


wind, this intrepid race boldly tempt the inconstant waves. 
imprudent pirates, transported by the desire of riches! The 
tempest arises, the waves roar, and the squadron is on the point 
of perishing. It strives to gain the nearest haven, but some 
times an army of beavers oppose the landing, fearful lest nhese 
strangers are come to pillage their stores. In vain the nimble 
battalions, springing upon the shores, think to escape by climb 
ing the trees, and from their lofty tops to defy the enemy. Ge 
nius is superior to artifice j a band of sappers advance, under 
mine the oak, and bring it to the ground, with all its squirrels, 
like a tower, filled with soldiers, demolishad by the ancient bat 

Our adventurers experience many other mishaps, wiich, how 
ever, are in some degree compensated by the fruit th^Wiave dis 
covered and the sports in which they indulge. Athens, reduced 
to captivity by the Lacedemonians, was not, on that account, of 
a less amiable or less frivolous character. 

In ascending the North River in the packet-boat from New 
York to Albany, we ourselves beheld one of these unfortunate 
squirrels, which had attempted to cross the stream. He was un 
able to reach the shore, and was taken half-drowned out of the 
water ; he was a beautiful creature, black as ebony, and his tail 
was twice the length of his body. He was restored to life, 
but lost his liberty by becoming the slave of a young female 

The reindeer of the north of Europe, and the elks of North 
America, have their seasons of migration, invariably calculated, 
like those of birds, to supply the necessities of man. Even the 
white bear of Newfoundland is sent by a wonderful Providence 
to the Esquimaux Indians, that they may clothe themselves with 
its skin. These marine monsters are seen approaching the coasts 
of Labrador on islands of floating ice, or on fragments of vessels, 
to which they cling like sturdy mariners escaped from shipwreck. 
The elephants of Asia also travel, and the earth shakes beneath 
their feet, yet man has nothing to fear ; chaste, tender, intelli 
gent, Behemoth is gentle because he is strong ; peaceful, because 
he is powerful. The first servant of man, but not his slave, he 
ranks next to him in the scale of the creation When the ani 
mals, after the original fall, removed from the habitation of inr.ii, 


the elephant, from the generosity of his nature, appears to have 
retired with the greatest reluctance ; for he has always remained 
near the cradle of the world. He now goes forth occasionally 
from his desert, and advances toward an inhabited district, to 
supply the place of some companion that has died without pro 
geny in the service of the children of Adam. 1 



IN the Floridas, at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, 
there are springs which are called natural wells. Each well is 
scooped out of the centre of a hill planted with orange-trees, 
evergreen oaks, and catalpas. This hill opens in the form of a 

1 The eloquent writers who have described the manners of this animal render 
it unnecessary for us to enlarge on the subject. We shall merely observe that 
the conformation of the elephant appears so extraordinary to us, only because 
we see it separated from the plants, the situations, the waters, the mountains, 
the colors, the light, the shade, and the skies, which are peculiar to it. The 
productions of our latitudes, planned on a smaller scale, the frequent roundness 
of objects, the firmness of the grasses, the slight denticulation of the leaves, 
the elegant bearing of the trees, our languid days and chilly nights, the fugitive 
tints of our verdure, in short, even the color, clothing and architecture of 
Europeans, have no conformity with the elephant. Were travellers more accu 
rate observers, we should know in what manner this quadruped is connected 
with that nature which produces him. For our own part, we think we hare a 
glimpse of some of these relations. The elephant s trunk, for example, has a 
striking coincidence with the wax-tree, the aloe, the lianne, the rattan, and in 
the animal kingdom with the long serpents of India; his ears are shaped like 
the leaves of the eastern fig-tree ; his skin is scaly, soft, and yet rigid, like the 
substance which covers part of the trunk of the palm, or rather like the ligneous 
coat of the cocoanut; many of the large plants of the tropics support them 
selves on the earth in the manner of his feet, and have the same square and 
heavy form ; his voice is at once shrill and strong, like that of the Caffre in his 
deserts, or like the war-cry of the Sepoy. When, covered with a rich carpet, 
laden with a tower resembling the minarets of a pagoda, he carries some pious 
monarch to the ruins of those temples which are found in the peninsula of 
India, his massive form, the columns which support him, his irregular figure, 
and his barbarous pomp, coincide with the colossal structure formed of hewn 
rocks piled one upon another. The vast animal and the ruined monument both 
Boem to be relics of the giant age. 


crescent toward the savanna, and at the aperture is a channel 
through which the water flows from the well. The foliage of t]ie 
trees bending over the fountain causes the water beneath to 
appear perfectly black; but at the spot where the aqueduct joins 
the base of the cone, a ray of light, entering by the bed of the 
channel, falls upon a single point of the liquid mirror, which 
produces an effect resembling that of the glass in the camera 
obscura of the painter. This delightful retreat is commonly in 
habited by an enormous crocodile, which stands motionless in the 
centre of the basin ;* and from the appearance of his greenish 
hide, and his large nostrils spouting the water in two colored 
ellipses, you would take him for a dolphin of bronze in some 
grotto among the groves of Versailles. 

The crocodiles or caymans of Florida live not always in soli 
tude. At certain seasons of the year they assemble in troops, 
and lie in ambush to attack the scaly travellers who are expected 
to arrive from the ocean. When these have ascended the rivers, 
and, wanting water for their vast shoals, perish stranded on the 
shores, and threaten to infect the air, Providence suddenly lets 
loose upon them an army of four or five thousand crocodiles. The 
monsters, raising a tremendous outcry and gnashing their horrid 
jaws, rush upon the strangers. Bounding from all sides, the 
combatants close, seize, and entwine each other. Plunging to 
the bottom of the abyss, they roll themselves in the mud, and 
then to the surface of the waves. The waters, stained with 
blood, are covered with mangled carcasses and reeking with en 
trails. It is impossible to convey an idea of these extraordinary 
scenes described by travellers, and which the reader is always 
tempted to consider as mere exaggerations. Routed, dispersed, 
and panic-struck, the foreign legions, pursued as far as the At 
lantic, are obliged to return to its abyss, that by supplying our 
wants at some future period, they may serve without injuring us. 9 
This species of monsters has sometimes proved a stumbling- 
block to atheistic minds ; they are, however, extremely necessary 
in the general plan. They inhabit only the deserts where the 
absence of man requires their presence : they are placed there 

1 See Bertram. Voyage dans les Carolines et dans les Florides. 

2 The immense advantages derived by man from the migrations of fishes are 
so voll known that we shall not enlarge on that subject. 


for the express purpose of destroying, till the arrival of the great 
destroyer. The moment we appear on the coast, they resign the 
empire to us ; certain that a single individual of our species will 
make greater havoc than ten thousand of theirs. 1 

"And why," it will be asked, "has God made superfluous 
creatures, which render destruction a necessary consequence?" 
For this great reason, that God acts not, like us, in a limited 
way. He contents himself with saying, " increase and multi 
ply," and in these two words exists infinity. Henceforth, we 
shall perhaps measure the wisdom of the Deity by the rule of 
mediocrity; we shall deny him the attribute of infinitude, and 
reject altogether the idea of immensity. Wherever we behold it 
in nature, we shall pronounce it an "excess," because it is above 
our comprehension. What ! If God thinks fit to place more 
than a certain number of suns in the expanse of heaven, shall we 
consider the excess as superfluous, and, in consequence of this 
profusion, declare the Creator convicted of folly and imbecility? 

Whatever may be the deformity of the beings which we call 
monsters, if we consider them individually, we may discover in 
their horrible figures some marks of divine goodness. Has a 
crocodile or a serpent less affection for her young than a night 
ingale or a dove ? And is it not a contrast equally wonderful and 
pleasing to behold this crocodile building a nest and laying an 
egg like a hen, and a little monster issuing from that egg like a 
chicken ? After the birth of the young one, the female croco 
dile evinces for it the most tender solicitude. She walks her 
rounds among the nests of her sisters, which are cones of eggs 
and of clay, and are ranged like the tents of a camp on the bank 
of a river. The amazon keeps a vigilant guard, and leaves the fires 
of day to operate ] for, if the delicate tenderness of the mother is, 
as it were, represented in the egg of the crocodile, the strength 
and the manners of that powerful animal are denoted by the sun 
which hatches that egg and by the rnud which aids it to ferment. 

1 It has been observed that, in the Carolinas, where the caymans have been 
destroyed, the rivers are often infected by the multitude of fishes which ascend 
from the ocean, and which perish for want of water during the dog-days. 

The cayman is commonly known by the name of Antilles Crocodile, because 
it abounds in those islands. It is the most hideous, terrible, and destructive 
of the Lacerta genus of animals. 


As s )on as one of the broods is hatched, the female takes the 
young monsters under her protection ; they are not always her own 
children but she thus serves an apprenticeship to maternal care, 
and acquires an ability equal to her future tenderness. When 
her family, at length, burst from their confinement, she conducts 
them to the river, she washes them in pure water, she teaches 
them to swim, she catches small fishes for them, and protects 
them from the males, by whom otherwise they would frequently 
be devoured. 

A Spaniard of Florida related to us that, having taken t 
brood of a crocodile, which he ordered some negroes to carry away 
in a basket, the female followed him with pitiful cries, 
the young having been placed upon the ground, the mother im 
mediately began to push them with her paws and her snout j 
sometimes posting herself behind to defend them, sometimes 
walking before to show them the way. The young animals, 
groaning, crawled in the footsteps of their mother; and this 
enormous reptile, which used to shake the shore witk her bellow 
ing, then made a kind of bleating noise, as gentle as that of a 
goat suckling her kids. 

The rattlesnake vies with the crocodile in maternal affection. 
This superb reptile, which gives a lesson of generosity to man, 1 
also presents to him a pattern of tenderness. When her offspring 
are pursued, she receives them into her mouth : a dissatisfied with 
every other place of concealment, she hides them within herself, 
concluding that children can have no better refuge than the 
bosom of their mother. A perfect example of sublime love, she 
never survives the loss of her young ; for it is impossible to de 
prive her of them without tearing out her entrails. 

Shall we mention the poison of this serpent, always the most 
violent at the time she has a family? Shall we describe the 
tenderness of the bear, which, like the female savage, carries 
maternal affection to such a pitch as to suckle her offspring after 
their death? 3 If we follow these monsters, as they are called, in 
*11 their instincts ; if we study their forms and their weapons of 

1 It is never the first to attack. 

2 See Carver s Travels in Canada for a confirmation of this statement. 

3 See Cook s Voyages. 


defence ; if we consider the link which they make in the chain 
of creation ; if we examine the relations they have among them 
selves, and those which they have to man; we shall be convinced 
that final causes are, perhaps, more discernible in this class of 
beings than in the most favored species of nature. In a rude 
and unpolished work, the traits of genius shine forth the more 
prominently amid the shadows that surround them. 

The objections alleged against the situations which these mon 
sters inhabit appear to us equally unfounded. Morasses, how 
ever noxious they may seem, have, nevertheless, very important 
uses. They are the urns of rivers in champagne countries, and 
reservoirs for rain in those remote from the sea. Their mud and 
the ashes of their plants serve the husbandman for manure. 
Their reeds supply the poor with fuel and with shelter a frail 
covering, indeed, though it harmonizes with the life of man, last 
ing no longer than himself. These places even possess a certain 
beauty peculiar to themselves. Bordering on land and water, 
they have plants, scenery, and inhabitants, of a specific character. 
Every object there partakes of the mixture of the two elements. 
The corn-flag forms the medium between the herb and the shrub, 
between the leek of the seas and the terrestrial plant. Some of 
the aquatic insects resemble small birds. When the dragon-fly, 
with his blue corslet and transparent wings, hovers round the 
flower of the white water-lily, you would take him for a hum 
ming-bird of the Floridas on a rose of magnolia. In autumn 
these morasses are covered with dried reeds, which give to ste 
rility itself the appearance of the richest harvests. In the spring 
they exhibit forests of verdant lances. A solitary birch or willow, 
on which the gale has suspended tufts of feathers, towers above 
these moving plains, and when the wind passes over their bend 
ing summits, one bows its head while another rises; but suddenly, 
the whole forest inclining at once, you discover ei .her the gilded 
bittern or ;he white heron, standing motionless on one of its long 
paws, as it fixed upon a spear. 




WE now enter that kingdom of nature in which the wonders 
of Providence assume a milder and more charming character. 
Rising aloft in the air, and on the summits of the mountains, 
plants would seem to borrow something of that heaven to which 
they make approaches. We often see, at the first dawn of day, 
in a time of profound stillness, the flowers of the valley motion 
less on their stems, and inclining in various directions toward 
every point of the horizon. At this very moment, when all ap 
pears so tranquil, a great mystery is accomplishing. Nature con 
ceives, and all these plants become so many youthful mothers, 
looking toward the mysterious region from which they derive 
their fecundity. The sylphs have sympathies less aerial, commu 
nications less imperceptible. The narcissus consigns her virgin 
progeny to the stream. The violet trusts her modest posterity to 
the zephyrs. A bee, collecting honey from flower to flower, un 
consciously fecundates a whole meadow. A butterfly bears a 
whole species on his wings. All the loves of the plants, however, 
are not equally peaceful. Some are stormy, like the passions of 
men. Nothing less than a tempest is required to marry, on their 
inaccessible heights, the cedar of Lebanon to the cedar of Sinai; 
while, at the foot of the mountain, the gentlest breeze is sufficient 
to produce a voluptuous commerce among the flowers. Is it not 
thus that the rude blast of the passions agitates the kings of the 
earth upon their thrones, while the shepherds enjoy uninterrupted 
happiness at their feet? 

The flower yields honey. It is the daughter of the morning, 
the charm of spring, the source of perfumes, the graceful orna 
ment of the virgin, the delight of the poet. Like man, it passes 
rapidly away, but drops its leaves gently to the earth. Among 
the ancients it crowned the convivial cup and the silvery hair of 
the sage. With flowers the first Christians bedecked the remains 
of martyrs and the altars of the catacombs; and, in commemora- 


tioii of those ancient days, we still use them for the decoration of 
our temples. In the world, we compare our affections to the 
colors of the flower. Hope has its verdure, innocence its whiteness, 
modesty its roseate hue. Some nations make it the interpreter 
of the feelings, a charming book, containing no dangerous error, 
but recording merely the fugitive history of man s changing heart. 

By a wise distribution of the sexes in several families of plants, 
Providence h;;s multiplied the mysteries and the beauties of na 
ture. By this means the law of migrations is reproduced in a 
kingdom destitute, apparently, of every locomotive faculty. 
Sometimes it is the seed or the fruit, sometimes it is a portion 
of the plant, or even the whole plant, that travels. The cocoa- 
tree frequently grows upon rocks in the midst of the ocean. The 
storm rages, the fruits fall and are carried by the billows to in 
habited coasts, where they are transformed into stately trees an 
admirable symbol of Virtue, who fixes herself upon the rock, ex 
posed to the tempest. The more she is assailed by the wands, 
the more she lavishes treasures upon mankind. 

On the banks of the Yare, a small river in the county of Suf 
folk, England, we were shown a very curious species of the cress 
It changes its place, and advances, as it were, by leaps and bounds. 
From its summit descend several fibres, and when those which 
happen to be at one extremity are of sufficient length to reach 
the bottom of the water, they take root. Drawn away by the 
action of the plant, which settles upon its new foot, that on the 
opposite looses its hold, and the tuft of cresses, turning on its 
pivot, removes the whole length of its bed. In vain you seek 
the plant on the morrow in the place where you left it the pre 
ceding night. You perceive it higher up or lower down the 
current of the river, producing, with the other aquatic families, 
new effects and new beauties. We have not seen this singular 
species of cress, either in its flowering or bearing state; but we 
have given it the name of migrator, or the traveller. 1 

Marine plants are liable to change their climate. They seem 
to partake of the adventurous spirit of those nations whose geo 
graphical position has rendered them commercial. The fucus 
giganteus issues with the tempests from the caverns of the north. 

1 None of the naturalists consulted upon this subject have verified the de 
scription of this curious species of cress. 


Borne upon the sea, it moves along encircling an immense mnss 
of water. Like a net Wretched across the ocean from shore to 
shore, it carries along with it the shells, seals, thornbacks, and 
turtles which it meets in its way. Sometimes, as if fatigued with 
swimming on the waves, it extends one leg to the bottom of the 
abyss, and remains stationary; then, pursuing its voyage with a 
favorable breeze, after having floated beneath a thousand different 
latitudes, it proceeds to cover the Canadian shores with garlands 
torn from the rocks of Norway. 

The migrations of marine plants, which, at the first view, 
would seem to be the mere sport of chance, have, nevertheless, 
very interesting relations with man. 

Walking one evening along the seashore at Brest, we perceived 
a poor woman wandering, in a stooping posture, among the rocks. 
She surveyed with attention the fragments of a wreck, and exa 
mined particularly the plants which adhered to it, as if she sought 
to ascertain, from their age, the exact period of her misfortune. 
She discovered, beneath some stones, one of those chests in which 
mariners are used to keep their bottles. Perhaps she had once 
filled it herself, for her husband, with cordials purchased with the 
fruit of her economy; at least so we judged, for we saw her lift 
the corner of her apron to wipe the tears from her eyes. Sea- 
mushrooms now replaced the offerings of her affection. Thus, 
while the report of cannon announces to the great ones of this 
earth the destruction of human grandeur, Providence brings the 
tale of sorrow, on the same shore, to the weak and lowly, by se 
cretly disclosing to them a blade of grass or a ruin. 



WHAT we have said respecting animals and plants leads us to 
a more general view of the scenes of nature. Those wonders 
which, separately considered, so loudly proclaimed the providence 
of God, will now speak to us of the same truth in their collective 


We shall place before the reader two views of nature; one an 
ocean scene, the other a land picture ; one sketched in the middle 
of the Atlantic, the other in the forests of the New World. 
Thus, no one can say that the imposing grandeur of this scenery 
has been derived from the works of man. 

The vessel in which we embarked for America having passed 
the bearing of any land, space was soon enclosed only by the two 
fold azure of the sea and of the sky. The color of the waters 
resembled that of liquid glass. A great swell was visible from 
the west, though the wind blew from the east, while immense un 
dulations extended from the north to the south, opening in their 
valleys long vistas through the deserts of the deep. The fleeting 
scenes changed with every minute. Sometimes a multitude of 
verdant hillocks appeared to us like a series of graves in some 
vast cemetery. Sometimes the curling summits of the waves 
resembled white flocks scattered over a heath. Now space seemed 
circumscribed for want of an object of comparison; but if a billow 
reared its mountain crest, if a wave curved like a distant shore, 
or a squadron of sea-dogs moved along the horizon, the vastness 
of space again suddenly opened before us. We were most power 
fully impressed with an idea of magnitude, when a light fog, 
creeping along the surface of the deep, seemed to increase im 
mensity itself. Oh ! how sublime, how awful, at such times, is 
the aspect of the ocean ! Into what reveries does it plunge you, 
whether imagination transports you to the seas of the north, into 
the midst of frosts and tempests, or wafts you to southern islands, 
blessed with happiness and peace ! 

We often rose at midnight and sat down upon deck, where we 
found only the officer of the watch and a few sailors silently 
smoking their pipes. No noise was heard, save the dashing of 
the prow through the billows, while sparks of fire ran with a white 
foam along the sides of the vessel. God of Christians ! it is on 
the waters of the abyss and on the vast expanse of the heavens 
that thou hast particularly engraven the characters of thy omni 
potence ! Millions of stars sparkling in the azure of the celestial 
dome the moon in the midst of the firmament a sea unbounded 
by any shore infinitude in the skies and on the waves proclaim 
with most impressive effect the power of thy arm ! Never did 
thy greatness strike me with profounder awe than in those nights, 


when, suspended between the stars and the ocea i, I *xheld im 
mensity over my head and immensity beneath my feet! 

I am nothing; I am only a simple, solitary wanderer, and 
often have I heard men of science disputing on the subject of a 
Supreme Being, without understanding them ; but I have inva 
riably remarked, that it is in the prospect of the sublime scenes 
of nature that this unknown Being manifests himself to the 
human heart. One evening, after we had reached the beautiful 
waters that bathe the shores of Virginia, there was a profound 
calm, and every sail was furled. I was engaged below, when I 
heard the bell that summoned the crew to prayers. I hastened 
to mingle my supplications with those of my travelling com 
panions. The officers of the ship were on the quarter-deck 
with the passengers, while the chaplain, with a book in his 
hand, was stationed at a little distance before them ; the seamen 
were scattered at random over the poop; we were all standing, 
our faces toward the prow of the vessel, which was turned to 
the west. 

The solar orb, about to sink beneath the waves, was seen 
through the rigging, in the midst of boundless space ; and, from 
the motion of the stern, it appeared as if it changed its horizon 
every moment. A few clouds wandered confusedly in the east, 
where the moon was slowly rising. The rest of the sky was serene; 
and toward the north, a water-spout, forming a glorious triangle 
with the luminaries of day and night, and glistening with all 
the colors of the prism, rose from the sea, like a column of 
crystal supporting the vault of heaven. 

He had been well deserving of pity who would not have re 
cognised in this prospect the beauty of God. When my com 
panions, doffing their tarpaulin hats, entoned with hoarse voice 
their simple hymn to Our Lady of Good Help, the patroness of 
the seas, the tears flowed from my eyes in spite of myself. How 
affecting was the prayer of those men, who, from a frail plank in 
the midst of the ocean, contemplated the sun setting behind the 
waves! How the appeal of the poor sailor to the Mother cf 
Sorrows went to the heart ! The consciousness of our insignifi 
cance in the presence of the Infinite, our hymns, resounding to 
a distance over the silent waves, the night approaching with its 
dangers, our vessel, itself a wonder among so many wonders, a 


religious crew, penetrated with admiration and tfith awe, a ve 
nerable priest in prayer, the Almighty bending over the abyss, 
with one hand staying the sun in the west, with the other raising 
the moon in the east, and lending through all immensity, an 
attentive ear to the feeble voice of his creatures, all this consti 
tuted a scene which no power of art can represent, and which it 
is scarcely possible for the heart of man to feel. 

Let us now pass to the terrestrial scene. 

I had wandered one evening in the woods, at some distance 
from the cataract of Niagara, when soon the last glimmering of 
daylight disappeared, and I enjoyed, in all its loneliness, the 
beauteous prospect of night amid the deserts of the New World. 

An hour after sunset, the moon appeared above the trees in 
the opposite part of the heavens. A balmy breeze, which the 
queen of night had brought with her from the east, seemed to 
precede her in the forests, like her perfumed breath. The lonely 
luminary slowly ascended in the firmament, now peacefully pur 
suing her azure course, and now reposing on groups of clouds 
which resembled the summits of lofty, snow-covered mountains. 
These clouds, by the contraction and expansion of their vapory 
forms, rolled themselves into transparent zones of white satin, 
scattering in airy masses of foam, or forming in the heavens 
brilliant beds of down so lovely to the eye that you would have 
imagined you felt their softness and elasticity. 

The scenery on the earth was not less enchanting : the soft and 
bluish beams of the moon darted through the intervals between 
the trees, and threw streams of light into the midst of the most 
profound darkness. The river that glided at my feet was now 
lost in the wood, and now reappeared, glistening with the constel 
lations of night, which were reflected on its bosom. In a vast 
plain beyond this stream, the radiance of the moon reposed 
quietly on the verdure. Birch-trees, scattered here and there in 
the savanna, and agitated by the breeze, formed shadowy islands 
which floated on a motionless sea of light. Near me, all was 
silence and repose, save the fall of some leaf, the transient 
rustling of a sudden breath of wind, or the hooting of the owl ; 
but at a distance was heard, at intervals, the solemn roar of the 
Falls of Niagara, which, in tl) stillness of the night, was prolonged 
from desert to desert, and died away among the solitary forests. 


The grandeur, the astonishing solemnity of this scene, cannot 
be expressed in language ; nor can the most delightful nights of 
Europe afford any idea of it. In vain does imagination attempt 
to soar in our cultivated fields; it everywhere meets with the 
habitations of men : but in those wild regions the mind loves to 
penetrate into an ocean of forests, to hover round the abysses of 
cataracts, to meditate on the banks of lakes and rivers, and, as it 
were, to find itself alone with God. 



To complete the view of final causes, or the proofs of the 
existence of God, deducible from the wonders of nature, we have 
only to consider man in his physical or material aspect; and here 
we shall quote the observations of those who were thoroughly 
acquainted with the subject. 

Cicero describes the human body in the following terms :* 
" With respect to the senses, by which exterior objects are con 
veyed to the knowledge of the soul, their structure corresponds 
wonderfully with their destination, and they have their seat in 
the head as in a fortified town. The eyes, like sentinels, occupy 
the most elevated place, whence, on discovering objects, they 
may give the alarm. An eminent position was suited to the ears, 
because they are destined to receive sounds, which naturally 
ascend. The nostrils required a similar situation, because odors 
likewise ascend, and it was necessary that they should be near 
the mouth, because they greatly assist us in judging of our meat 
and drink. Taste, by which we are apprised of tJhe quality of 
the food we take, resides in that part of the mouth through which 
nature gives a passage to solids and liquids. As for the touch, 
it is generally diffused over the whole body, that we might neither 
receive any impression, nor be attacked by cold or heat, without 
feeling it. And as an architect will not place the sewer of a 

1 De Natura Deorum, lib. ii. 


house before the eyes or under the nose of his employer, -10 Na 
ture has removed from our senses every thing of a siinila; kind 
in the human body. 

" But what other artist than Nature, whose dexterity is incom 
parable, could have formed our senses with such exquisite skill ? 
She has covered the eyes with very delicate tunics, transparent 
before, that we might see through them, and close in their tex 
ture, to keep the eyes in their proper situation. She has made 
them smooth and moveable, to enable them to avoid every thing 
by which they might be injured and to look with facility to 
whatever side they please. The pupil, in which is united all 
that constitutes the faculty of sight, is so small that it escapes 
without difficulty from every object capable of doing it mischief. 
The eyelids have a soft and polished surface, that they may not 
hurt the eyes Whether the fear of some accident obliges us to 
shut them, or we choose to open them, the eyelids are formed in 
such a manner as to adapt themselves to either of these motions, 
which are performed in an instant ; they are, if we may so ex 
press it, fortified with palisades of hair, which serve to repel 
whatever may attack the eyes when they are open, and to 
envelop them that they may repose in peace when sleep closes 
and renders them useless to us. Our eyes possess the additional 
advantage of being concealed and defended by eminences j for, 
on the one hand, to stop the sweat that trickles down from the 
head and forehead, they have projecting eyebrows; and on the 
other, to preserve them from below, they have cheeks which like 
wise advance a little. The nose is placed between both like a 
wall of partition. 

" With respect to the ear, it remains continually open, because 
we have occasion for its services, even when asleep. If any 
sound then strikes it, we are awaked. It has winding channels, 
lest, if they were straight and level, some object might find its 
way into them 

"And then our hands, how convenient are they, and how use 
ful in the arts ! The fingers are extended or contracted without 
the least difficulty, so extremely flexible are their joints. With 
their assistance the hands use the pencil and the chisel, and play 
on the lyre arid the lute : so much for the agreeable. As to what 
is necessary, they cultivate the earth, build houses, make clothes, 


and work in copper and iron. The imagination invents, the 
senses examine, the hand executes; so that, if we are lodged, 
clothed, and sheltered, if we have cities, walls, habitations, tem 
ples, it is to our hands that we are indebted for all these." 

It must be allowed that matter alone could no more have 
fashioned the human body for so many admirable purposes, than 
this beautiful discourse of the Roman orator could have been 
composed by a writer destitute of eloquence and of skill. 1 

Various authors, and Nieuwentyt in particular, have proved 
that the bounds within which our senses are confined, are the 
very limits that are best adapted to them, and that we should be 
exposed to a great number of inconveniences and dangers were 
the senses in any degree enlarged. 3 Galen, struck with admira 
tion in the midst of an anatomical analysis of a human body, 
suddenly drops the scalpel, and exclaims : 

"0 Thou who hast made us! in composing a discourse so 
sacred, I think that I am chanting a hymn to thy glory ! I honor 
thee more by unfolding the beauty of thy works, than bv sacri 
ficing to thee whole hecatombs of bulls or by burning in thy 
temples the most precious incense. True piety consists in first 
learning to know myself, and then in teaching others the great 
ness of thy bounty, thy power, and thy wisdom. Thy bounty is 
conspicuous in the equal distribution of thy presents, having 
allotted to each man the organs which are necessary for him ; thy 
wisdom is seen in the excellence of thy gifts, and thy power is 
displayed in the execution of thy designs." 8 

1 Cicero borrowed what he says concerning the service of the hand from 
Aristotle. In combating the philosophy of A naxagoras, the Stagyrite observes, 
with his accustomed sagacity, that man is not superior to the animals because 
he has hands, but that he has hands because he is superior to the animals. 
Plato likewise adduces the structure of the human body as a proof of a divine 
intelligence; and there are some sublime sentences in Job on the same subject 

2 See note M. 

Stolen, de Usu Part., lib Hi. o. 10. 




As we have considered the instincts of animals, it is proper 
that we should allude to those of physical man ; but as he com 
bines in himself the feelings of different classes of the creation, 
such as parental tenderness, and many others, we shall select one 
quality that is peculiar to him. 

The instinct with which man is pre-eminently endued that 
which is of aU the most beautiful and the most moral is the love 
of his native country. If this law were not maintained by a 
never-ceasing miracle, to which, however, as to many others, we 
pay not the smallest attention, all mankind would crowd together 
into the temperate zones, leaving the rest of the earth a desert. 
We may easily conceive what great evils would result from this 
collection of the human family on one point of the globe. To 
prevent these calamities, Providence has, as it were, fixed the feet 
of each individual to his native soil by an invincible magnet, so 
that neither the ices of Greenland nor the burning sands of 
Africa are destitute of inhabitants. 

We may remark still further, that the more sterile the soil, the 
more rude the climate, of a country, or, what amounts to the sams 
thing, the greater the injustice arid the more severe the persecu 
tion we have suffered there, the more strongly we are attached to 
it. Strange and sublime truth! that misery should become a 
bond of attachment, and that those who have lost but a cottage 
should most feelingly regret the paternal habitation! The reason 
of this phenomenon is, that the profusion of a too fertile soil de 
stroys, by enriching us, the simplicity of the natural ties arising 
from our wants ; when we cease to love our parents and our rela 
tions because they are no longer necessary to us, we actually 
cease also to love our country. 

Every thing tends to confirm the truth of this remark. A 
savage is more powerfully attached to his hut than a prince to his 
palace, and the mountaineer is more delighted with his native 


rocks than the inhabitant of the plain with his golden corn-fields. 
Ask a Scotch Highlander if he would exchange his lot with the 
first potentate of the earth. When far removed from his beloved 
mountains, he carries with him the recollection of them whither 
soever he goes; he sighs for his flocks, his torrents, and his 
clouds. He longs to eat again his barley-bread, to drink goat s 
milk, and to sing in the valley the ballads which were sung by 
his forefathers. He pines if he is prevented from returning to 
his native clime. It is a mountain plant which must be rooted 
among rocks; it cannot thrive unless assailed by the winds and 
the rain; in the soil, the shelter, and the sunshine of the plain, 
it quickly droops and dies. 

With what joy will he again fly to his roof of furze ! with what 
delight will he visit all the sacred relics of his indigence ! 

" Sweet treasures !" he exclaims, " pledges dear ! 
That lying and envy have attracted ne er, 
Come back : from all this royal pomp I flee, 
For all is but an idle dream to me." 

Who can be more happy than the Esquimaux, in his frightful 
country? What to him are all the flowers of our climates com 
pared to the snows of Labrador, and all our palaces to his smoky 
cabin ? He embarks in spring, with his wife, on a fragment of 
floating ice. 3 Hurried along by the currents, he advances into 
the open sea on this frozen mass. The mountain waves over the 
deep its trees of snow, the sea-wolves revel in its valleys, and the 
whales accompany it on the dark bosom of the ocean. The dar 
ing Indian, under the shelter afforded by his frozen mountain, 
presses to his heart the wife whom God has given him, and finds 
with her unknown joys in this mixture of perils and of pleasures. 
It should be observed, however, that this savage has very good 
teasons for preferring his country and his condition to ours. De 
graded as his nature may appear to us, still, we may discover in 
him, or in the arts he practises, something that displays the dig 
nity of man. The European is lost every day, in some vessel 

1 "Doux tresors!" se dit-il: "chers gages, qui jamais 

N attirates sur vous 1 envie et le mensonge, 
Je vous reprends: sortons cie ces riches palais, 
Comme Ton sortiroit d un songe. 

2 See Hietci^e de la Nouvelle France, by Charlevoix. 


which is a master-piece of human industry, on the same shores 
where the Esquimaux, floating in a seal s skin, smiles at every 
kind of danger. Sometimes he hears the ocean which covers 
him roaring far above his head ; sometimes mountain-billows bear 
him aloft to the skies : he sports among the surges, as a child 
balances himself on tufted branches in the peaceful recesses of 
the forest. When God placed man in this region of tempests, he 
stamped upon him a mark of royalty. " Go/ said he to him from 
amidst the whirlwind, "go, wretched mortal; I cast thee naked 
upon the earth ; but, that thy destiny may not be misconceived, 
thou shalt subdue the monsters of the deep with a reed, and thou 
shalt trample the tempests under thy feet." 

Thus, in attaching us to our native land, Providence justifies 
its dealings toward us, and we find numberless reasons for loving 
our country. The Arab never forgets the well of the camel, the 
antelope, and, above all, the horse, the faithful companion of his 
journeys through his paternal deserts; the negro never ceases to 
remember his cottage, his javelin, his banana, and the track of 
the zebra and the elephant in his native sands. 

It is related that an English cabin-boy had conceived such an 
attachment for the ship in which he was born that he could 
never be induced to leave it for a single moment. The greatest 
punishment the captain could inflict was to threaten him with 
beino- sent ashore ; on these occasions he would run with loud 
shrieks and conceal himself in the hold. What inspired the little 
mariner with such an extraordinary affection for a plank beaten 
by the winds ? Assuredly not associations purely local and phy 
sical. Was it a certain moral conformity between the destinies 
of man and those of a ship ? or did he perhaps find a pleasure in 
concentrating his joys and his sorrows in what we may justly call 
his cradle? The heart is naturally fond of contracting itself; the 
more it is compressed, the smaller is the surface which is liable 
to be wounded. This is the reason why persons of delicate sensi 
bilitysuch the unfortunate generally are prefer to live in retire 
ment. What sentiment gains in energy it loses in extent. When 
the Roman republic was bounded by the Aventine Mount, her 
citizens joyfully sacrificed their lives in her defence : they ceased 
to love her when the Alps and Mount Taurus were the limits of 
her territory. It was undoubtedly some reason of this kind that 


cherished in the heart of the English youth a predilection for his 
paternal vessel. An unknown passenger on the ocean of life, he 
beheld the sea rising as a barrier between him and our afflictions; 
happy in viewing only at a distance the melancholy shores of the 
world ! 

Among civilized nations the love of country has performed 
prodigies. The designs of God have always a connection; he 
has grounded upon nature this affection for the place of our 
nativity, and hence, the animal partakes, in a certain degree, of 
this instinct with man ; but the latter carries it farther, and trans 
forms into a virtue what was only a sentiment of universal con 
cordance. Thus the physical and moral laws of the universe are 
linked together in an admirable chain. We even doubt whether 
it be possible to possess one genuine virtue, one real talent, with 
out the love of our native country. In war this passion has ac 
complished wonders; in literature it produced a Homer and a 
Virgil. The former delineates in preference to all others the 
manners of Ionia, where he drew his first breath, and the latter 
feasted on the remembrance of his native place. Born in a cot 
tage, and expelled from the inheritance of his ancestors, these 
two circumstances seem to have had an extraordinary influence 
on the genius of Virgil, giving to it that melancholy tint which 
is one of its principal charms. He recalls these events continu 
ally, and shows that the country where he passed his youth was 
always before his eyes : 

Et dulcis moriens reminiscitur Argos. 1 

But it is the Christian religion that has invested patriotism 
with its true character. This sentiment led to the commission 
of crime among the ancients, because it was carried to excess; 
Christianity has made it one of the principal affections in man, 
but not an exclusive one. It commands us above all things to 
be just; it requires us to cherish the whole family of Adam, 
since we ourselves belong to it, though our countrymen have the 
first claim to our attachment. This morality was unknown before 
the coming of the Christian lawgiver, who has been unjustly ac 
cused of attempting to extirpate the passions : God destroys not 

1 jffineid, lib. x. 


his own work. The gospel is not the destroyer of the heart, but 
its regulator. It is to our feelings what taste is to the fine arts; 
it retrenches all that is exaggerated, false, common, and trivial; 
it leaves all that is fair, and good, and true. The Christian reli 
gion, rightly understood, is only primitive nature washed from 
original pollution. 

It is when at a distance from our country that we feel the full 
force of the instinct by which we are attached to it. For want 
of the reality, we try to feed upon dreams; for the heart is expert 
in deception, and there is no one who has been suckled at the 
breast of woman but has drunk of the cup of illusion. Some 
times it is a cottage which is situated like the paternal habitation ; 
sometimes it is a wood, a valley, a hill, on which we bestow some 
of the sweet appellations of our native land. Andromache gives 
the name of Simois to a brook. And what an affecting object is 
this little rill v which recalls the idea of a mighty river in her 
native country ! Remote from the soil which gave us birth, na 
ture appears to us diminished, and but the shadow of that which 
we have lost. 

Another artifice of the love of country is to attach a great 
value to an object of little intrinsic worth, but which comes from 
our native land, and which we have brought with us into exile. 
The soul seems to dwell even upon the inanimate things which 
have shared our destiny : we remain attached to the down on 
which our prosperity has slumbered, and still more to the straw 
on which we counted the days of our adversity. The vulgar have 
an energetic expression, to describe that languor which oppresses 
the soul when away from our country. "That man," they say, 
"is home-sick." A sickness it really is, and the only cure 
for it is to return. If, however, we have been absent a few 
7ears, what do we find in the place of our nativity ? How few 
of those whom we left behind in the vigor of health are still 
alive! Here are tombs where once stood palaces; there rise 
palaces where we left tombs. The paternal field is overgrown 
wi+h briers or cultivated by the plough of a stranger; and the 
tree beneath which we frolicked in our boyish days has dis 

In Louisiana there were two females, one a negro, the other an 


Indian, who were the slaves of two neighboring planters Each 
of the women had a child ; the black a little girl two years old, 
and the Indian a boy of the same age. The latter died. The two 
unfortunate women having agreed upon a solitary spot, repaired 
thither three successive nights. The one brought her dead child, 
the other her living infant; the one her Manitou, the other her 
Fetiche. They were not surprised thus to find themselves of the 
same religion, both being wretched. The Indian performed the 
honors of the solitude: " This is the tree of my native land," 
said she; "sit down there and weep." Then, in accordance 
with the funeral custom of savage nations, they suspended their 
children from the branch of a catalpa or sassafras-tree, and rocked 
them while singing some patriotic air. Alas ! these maternal 
amusements, which had oft lulled innocence to sleep, were inca 
pable of awaking death ! Thus these women consoled themselves; 
the one had lost her child and her liberty, the other her liberty 
und her country. We find a solace even in tears. 

It is said that a Frenchman, who was obliged to fly during the 
reign of terror, purchased with the little he had left a boat upon 
the Rhine. Here he lived with his wife and two children. As 
he had no money, no one showed him any hospitality. When he 
was driven from one shore, he passed without complaining to the 
other; and, frequently persecuted on both sides, he was obliged to 
cast anchor in the middle of the river. He fished for the sup 
port of his family; but even this relief sent by divine Providence 
he was not allowed to enjoy in peace. At night he went to col 
lect some dry grass to make a fire, and his wife remained in cruel 
anxiety till his return. Obliged to lead the life of outcasts, 
among four great civilized nations, this family had not a single 
spot on earth where thej durst set their feet ; their only consola 
tion was, that while they wandered in the vicinity of France they 
could sometimes inhale the breeze which had passed over their 
native land. 

Were we asked, what are those powerful ties which bind us to 
the place of our nativity, we would find some difficulty in answer 
ing the question. It is, perhaps, the sniile of a mother, of a 
father, of a sister ; it is, perhaps, the recollection of the old pre- 
ceptoT who instructed us and of the young companions of our 


childhood ; it is, perhaps, the care bestowed upon us by a tender 
Qurse, by some aged domestic, so essential a part of the house 
hold ; finally, it is something most simple, and, if you please, most 
trivial, a dog that barked at night in the fields, a nightingale 
that returned every year to the orchard, the nest of the swallow 
over the window, the village clock that appeared above the trees, 
the churchyard yew, or the Gothic tomb. Yet these simple 
things demonstrate the more clearly the reality of a Providence, 
as they could not possibly be the source of patriotism, or of the 
great virtues which it begets, unless by the appointment of the 
Almighty himself. 





WERE there no other proofs of the existence of God than the 
wonders of nature, these evidences are so strong that they would 
convince any sincere inquirer after truth. But if they who deny 
a Providence are, for that very reason, unable to explain the 
wonders of the creation, they are still more puzzled when they 
undertake to answer the objections of their own hearts. By 
renouncing the Supreme Being, they are obliged to renounce a 
future state. The soul nevertheless disturbs them; she appears, 
as it were, every moment before them, and compels them, in 
spite of their sophistry, to acknowledge her existence and her 

Let them inform us, in the first place, if the soul is extin 
guished at the moment of death, whence proceeds the desire of 
happiness which continually haunts us ? All our passions here 
below may easily be gratified ; love, ambition, anger, have their 
full measure of enjoyment : the desire of happiness is the only 
one that cannot be satisfied, and that fails even of an object, as 
we know not what that felicity is which we long for. It must be 
admitted, that if every thing is matter, nature has here made a 
strange mistake, in creating a desire without any object. 

Certain it is that the soul is eternally craving. No sooner has 
it attained the object for which it yearned, than a new wish is 
formed ; and the whole universe cannot satisfy it. Infinity is the 
only field adapted to its nature ; it delights to lose itself in num 
bers, to conceive the greatest as well as the smallest dimensions, 
and to multiply without end. Filled at length, but not satisfied 

with all that it has devoured, it seeks the bosom of the Deity, in 


whom centre all ideas of infinity, whether in perfection, duration, 
or space. But it seeks the bosom of Deity only because he is a 
being full of mystery, a a hidden God." 1 If it had a clear ap 
prehension of the divine nature, it would undervalue it, as it does 
all other objects that its intellect is capable of measuring; for, 
if it could fully comprehend the eternal principle, it would be 
either superior or equal to this principle. It is not in divine as 
it is in human things. A man may understand the power of a 
king without being a king himself; but he cannot understand 
the divinity without being God. 

The inferior animals are not agitated by this hope which mani 
fests itself in the heart of man ; they immediately attain their 
highest degree of happiness ; a handful of grass satisfies the 
lamb, a little blood is sufficient for the tiger. If we were to 
assert, with some philosophers, that the different conformation of 
the organs constitutes all the difference between us and the brute, 
this mode of reasoning could, at the farthest, be admitted only in 
relation to purely material acts. But of what service is my hand 
to my mind, when amid the silence of night I soar through the 
regions of boundless space, to discover the Architect of so many 
worlds ? Why does not the ox act in this respect as I do ? His 
eyes are sufficient; and if he had my legs or my arms, they 
would for this purpose be totally useless to him. He may repose 
upon the turf, he may raise his head toward the sky, and by his 
bellowing call upon the unknown Being who fills the immense 
expanse. But no : he prefers the grass on which he treads; and 
while those millions of suns that adorn the firmament furnish the 
strongest evidences of a Deity, the animal consults them not ; he 
is insensible to the prospect of nature, and unconscious that he 
is himself thrown beneath the tree at the foot of which he lies, 
as a slight proof of a divine Intelligence. 

Man, therefore, is the only creature that wanders abroad, and 
looks for happiness out of himself. The vulgar, we are told, feel 
not this mysterious restlessness. They are undoubtedly less un 
happy than we, for they are diverted by laborious occupations 
from attending to their desires, and drown the thirst of felicity 
in the sweat of their brow. But when you see them toil six 

Is. xlv. 15. 


days in the week that they may enjoy a little pleasure on the 
seventh, when, incessantly hoping for repose and never finding 
it, they sink into the grave without eeasing to desire, will you say 
that they share not the secret aspiration of all men after an un 
known happiness ? You may reply, that in the class of which we 
are speaking this wish is at least limited to terrestrial things ; 
but your assertion remains to be proved. Give the poorest wretch 
all the treasures in the world, put an end to his toils, satisfy all 
his wants, and you will observe that, before a few months have 
elapsed, his heart will conceive new desires and new hopes. 

Besides, is it true that the lower classes, even in their state of 
indigence, are strangers to that thirst of happiness which extends 
beyond this life ? Whence proceeds that air of seriousness often 
observed in the rustic ? We have often seen him on Sundays 
and other festive days, while the people of the village were gone 
to offer up their prayers to that Reaper who will separate the 
wheat from the tares, we have often seen him standing alone at 
the door of his cottage j he listened with attention to the sound 
of the bell ; his air was pensive, and the sparrows that played 
around him and the insects that buzzed in every direction 
seemed not to distract him. Behold that noble figure, placed like 
the statue of a god upon the threshold of a cabin ; that brow, 
sublime though wrinkled with care ; and then say if this being, 
so majestic, though indigent, could be thinking of nothing, or 
reflecting only on things of this world. Ah, no ! such was not 
the expression of those half-open lips, of that motionless body, 
of those eyes fixed on the ground : recollections of God surely 
accompanied the sound of the religious bell. 

If it is impossible to deny that man cherishes hopes to the 
very tomb, if it is certain that all earthly possessions, so far 
from crowning our wishes, only serve to increase the void in the 
soul, we cannot but conclude that there must be a something 
beyond the limits of time. " The ties of this world," says St. 
Augustin, "are attended with real hardship and false pleasure; 
certain pains and uncertain joys; hard labor and unquiet rest; a 
situation fraught with wo and a hope void of felicity." 1 Instead 

1 Vincula hujus mundi asperitatem habent veram, jucunditatem falsain ; 
certum dolorem, incertam voluptatem ; durum la-bore in, timidam quietem : rem 
plenam miseries, spem beatitudinis inaneui. Epist. 30 A 


of complaining that the desire of happiness has leen placed in 
this world, and its object in the other, let us admire in this 
arrangement the beneficence of God. Since we must sooner or 
later quit this mortal life, Providence has placed beyond the fatal 
boundary a charm which attracts us, in order to diminish our 
horror of the grave : thus, the affectionate mother who wishes 
her child to cross a certain limit, holds some pleasing object on 
the other side to encourage him to pass it. 



CONSCIENCE furnishes a second proof of the immortality of the 
soul. Each individual has within his own heart a tribunal, where 
he sits in judgment on himself till the Supreme Arbiter shall con 
firm the sentence. If vice is but a physical consequence of our 
organization, whence arises this dread which embitters the days 
of prosperous guilt ? Why is remorse so terrible that many would 
choose rather to submit to poverty and all the rigors of virtue 
than enrich themselves with ill-gotten goods ? What is it that 
gives a voice to blood and speech to stones ? The tiger devours 
his prey, and slumbers quietly; man takes the life of his fellow- 
creature, and keeps a fearful vigil ! He seeks some desert place, 
and yet this solitude affrights him; he skulks about the tombs, 
and yet the tombs fill him with horrors. His eyes are wild and 
restless; he dares not fix them on the wall of the banqueting- 
room, for fear he should discover there some dreadful signs. All 
his senses seem to become more acute in order to torment him : 
he perceives at night threatening confiscations; he is always sur 
rounded by the smell of carnage ; he suspects the taste of poison 
in the food which he has himself prepared; his ear, now wonder 
fully sensitive, hears a noise where for others there is profound 
silence; and when embracing his friend, he fancies that he feels 
under his garments a hidden dagger. 

Conscience ! is it possible that thou canst be but a phantom of 


the imagination, or the fear of the punishment of men? I ask 
my own heart, I put to myself this question: "If thou couldst 
by a mere wish kill a fellow-creature in China, and inherit his 
fortune in Europe, with the supernatural conviction that the fact 
would never be known, wouldst thou consent to form such a 
wish?" In vain do I exaggerate my indigence; iu vain do I 
attempt to extenuate the murder, by supposing that through the 
effect of my wish the Chinese expires instantaneously and with 
out pain that, had he even died a natural death, his property, 
from the situation of his affairs, would have been lost to the 
state ; in vain do I figure to myself this stranger overwhelmed 
with disease and affliction ; in vain do I urge that to him death 
is a blessing, that he himself desires it, that he has but a moment 
longer to live : in spite of all my useless subterfuges, I hear a 
voice in the recesses of my soul, protesting so loudly against the 
mere idea of such a supposition, that I cannot for one moment 
doubt the reality of conscience. 

It is a deplorable necessity, then, that compels a man to deny 
remorse, that he may deny the immortality of the soul and the 
existence of an avenging Deity. Full well we know, that athe 
ism, when driven to extremities, has recourse to this disgraceful 
denial. The sophist, in a paroxysm of the gout, exclaimed, " 
pain ! never will I acknowledge that thou art an evil !" Were it 
even true that there exist men so unfortunate as to be capable of 
stifling the voice of conscience, what then? We must not judge 
of him who possesses the perfect use of his limbs by the paralytic 
who is deprived of his physical strength. Guilt, in its highest 
degree, is a malady which sears the soul. By overthrowing reli 
gion we destroy the only remedy capable of restoring sensibility 
in the morbid regions of the heart. This astonishing religion of 
Christ is a sort of supplement to the deficiency of the human 
mind. Do we sin ly excess, by too great prosperity, by violence 
of temper ? she is at hand to warn us of the fickleness of fortune 
and the danger of angry excitement. Are we exposed, on tho 
contrary, to sin by defect, by indigence, by indifference of soul ? 
she teaches us to despise riches, at the same time warms OUT 
frigid hearts, and, as it were, kindles in us the fire of the passions. 
Toward the criminal, in particular, her charity is inexhaustible ; 
no man is so depraved but she admits him to repentance, no 


leper so disgusting but she cures him with her pure hands. For 
the past she requires only remorse, for the future only virtue : 
"where sin abounded," she says, "grace did much more abound." 1 
Ever ready to warn the sinner, Jesus Christ established his reli 
gion as a second conscience for the hardened culprit who should 
be so unfortunate as to have lost the natural one, an evangelical 
conscience, full of pity and indulgence, to which the Son of God 
has given the power to pardon, which is not possessed by the 
conscience of man. 

Having spoken of the remorse which follows guilt, it would be 
unnecessary to say any thing of the satisfaction attendant on vir 
tue. The inward delight which we feel in doing a good action 
is no more a combination of matter than the accusation of con 
science, when we commit a bad one, is fear of the laws. 

If sophists maintain that virtue and pity are but self-love in 
disguise, ask them not if they ever felt any secret satisfaction 
after relieving a distressed object, or if it is the fear of returning 
to the state of childhood that affects them when contemplating 
the innocence of the new-born infant. Virtue and tears are for 
men the source of hope and the groundwork of faith; how then 
should he believe in God who believes neither in the reality of 
virtue nor in the truth of tears ? 

It would be an insult to the understanding of our readers, did 
we attempt to show how the immortality of the soul and the ex 
istence of God are proved by that inward voice called conscience. 
"There is in man," says Cicero, "a power which inclines him 
to that which is good and deters him from evil; which was not 
only prior to the origin of nations and cities, but as ancient as 
that God by whom heaven and earth subsist and are governed : 
for reason is an essential attribute of the divine intelligence; and 
. that reason which exists in God necessarily determines what is 
vice and what is virtue." 2 

Rom. v. 20. a Ad. Attic., xii. 38. 





MORALITY is the basis of society ; but if man is a mere mass 
of matter, there is in reality neither vice nor virtue, and of course 
morality is a mere sham. Our laws, which are ever relative and 
variable, cannot serve as the support of morals, which are always 
absolute and unalterable; they must, therefore, rest on something 
more permanent than the present life, and have better guarantees 
than uncertain rewards or transient punishments. Some philo 
sophers have supposed that religion was invented in order to up 
hold morality : they were not aware that they were taking the 
effect for the cause. It is not religion that springs from morals, 
but morals that spring from religion; since it is certain, as we 
have just observed, that morals cannot have their principle in 
physical man or mere matter; and that men no sooner divest 
themselves of the idea of a God than they rush into every spe 
cies of crime, in spite of laws and of executioners. 

It is well known that a religion which recently aspired to erect 
itself on the ruins of Christianity, and fancied that it could sur 
pass the gospel, enforced in our churches that precept of the De 
calogue : Children, honor your parents. But why did the Theo- 
philanthropists retrench the latter part of this precept, that ye 
may live long f l Because a secret sense of poverty taught them 
that the man who has nothing can give nothing away. How. 
could he have promised length of years who is not sure himself 
of living two minutes? We might with justice have said to him, 
" Thou makest me a present of life, and perceivest not that thou 
art thyself sinking into dust ? Like Jehovah, thou assurest me 

1 The Theophilanthropists, hardly deserving the name of a religious sect, 
arose out of the infatuation of the French revolution. Their system was partly 
positive and partly negative; they were advocates of some scraps of morality ; 
and they denied the doctrine of the resurrection. K. 


Ji protracted existence, but where is thy eternity like his from 
which to dispense it? Thoughtless mortal! even the present 
rapid hour is not thine own; thine only inheritance is death: 
what then but nothingness canst thou draw forth from the bot 
tom of thy sepulchre to recompense my virtue ?" 

There is another moral proof of the immortality of the soul on 
which it is necessary to insist, that is, the veneration of mankind 
for tombs. By an invisible charm, life and death are here linked 
together, and human nature proves itself superior to the rest of 
the creation, and appears in all its high destinies. Does the brute 
know any thing about a coffin, or does he concern himself about 
his remains ? What to him are the bones of his parent, or, rather, 
can he distinguish his parent after the cares of infancy are past? 
Whence comes, then, the powerful impression that is made upon 
us by the tomb ? Are a few grains of dust deserving of our vene 
ration ? Certainly not ; we respect the ashes of our ancestors for 
this reason only because a secret voice whispers to us that all is 
not extinguished in them. It is this that confers a sacred cha 
racter on the funeral ceremony among all the nations of the 
globe ; all are alike persuaded that the sleep even of the tomb is 
not everlasting, and that death is but a glorious transfiguration. 



WITHOUT entering too deeply into metaphysical proofs, which 
we have studiously avoided, we shall nevertheless endeavor to 
answer certain objections which are incessantly brought forward. 
Cicero has asserted, after Plato, that there is no people among 
whom there exists not some notion of the Deity. But this uni 
versal consent of nations, which the ancient philosophers con 
sidered as a law of nature, has been denied by modern infidels, 
who maintain that certain tribes of savages have no idea of God. 

In vain do atheists strive to conceal the weakness of their cause. 
The result of all their arguments is that their system is grounded 


on exceptions alone, whereas the belief of a God forms the general 
rule. If you assert that all mankind believe in a Supreme Being, 
the infidel first objects to you some particular tribe of savages, 
then some particular individual, or himself, who are of a different 
opinion. If you assert that chance could not have formed the 
world, because there could have been but one single favorable 
chance against innumerable impossibilities, the infidel admits the 
position, but replies that this chance actually did exist ; and the 
same mode of reasoning he pursues on every subject. Thus, 
according to the atheist, nature is a book in which truth is to be 
found only in the notes and never in the text; a language the 
genius and essence of which consist in its barbarisms. 

When we come to examine these pretended exceptions, we 
discover either that they arise from local causes, or that they even 
fall under the established law. In the case alleged, for example, 
it is false that there are any savages who have no notion of a 
Heity. The early travellers who advanced this assertion have 
been contradicted by others who were better informed. Among 
the infidels of the ^forest were numbered the Canadian hordes ; 
but we have seen these sophists of the cabin, who were supposed 
to have read in the book of nature, as our sophists have in theirs, 
that there is no God, nor any future state for man ; and we must 
say that these Indians are absurd barbarians, who perceive the 
soul of an infant in a dove, and that of a little girl in the sensi 
tive plant. Mothers among them are so silly as to sprinkle their 
milk upon a grave; and they give to man in the sepulchre the 
same attitude which he had in the maternal womb. May not 
this be done to intimate that death is but a second mother, by 
whom we are brought forth into another life? Atheism will 
never make any thing of those nations which are indebted to 
Providence for lodging, food, and raiment; and we would advise 
the infidel to beware of these bribed allies, who secretly receive 
presents from the enemy. 

Another objection is this : " Since the mind acquires and loses 
its energies with age, since it follows all the alterations of mat 
ter, it must be of a material nature, consequently divisible and 
liable to perish/ 

Either the mind and the body are two distinct beings, or they 
are but one and the same substance. If there are two, you must 


admit that the mind is comprehended in the body; hence it 
follows that, as long as this union lasts, the mind cannot but be 
affected in a certain degree by the bonds in which it is held. It 
will appear to be" elevated or depressed in the same proportion as 
its mortal tabernacle. The objection, therefore, is done away in 
the hypothesis by which the mind and the body are considered as 
two distinct, substances. 

If you suppose that they form but one and the same substance, 
partaking alike of life and death, you are bound to prove the as 
sertion. But it has long been demonstrated that the mind is 
essentially different from motion and the other properties of mat 
ter, being susceptible neither of extension nor division. 

Thus the objection falls entirely to the ground, since the only 
point to be ascertained is, whether matter and thought be one and 
the same thing : a position which cannot be maintained without 

Let it not be imagined that, in having recourse to prescription 
for the solution of this difficulty, we are, therefore, unable to sap 
its very foundation. It may be proved that even when the mind 
seems to follow the contingencies of the body, it retains the dis 
tinguishing characters of its essence. For instance, atheists tri 
umphantly adduce, in support of their views, insanity, injuries of 
the brain, and delirious fevers. To prop their wretched system, 
these unfortunate men are obliged to enrol all the ills of human 
ity as allies in their cause. Well, then, what, after all, is proved 
by these fevers, this insanity, which atheism that is to say, the 
genius of evil so properly summons in its defence? I see a dis 
ordered imagination connected with a sound understanding. The 
lunatic and the delirious perceive objects which have no existence; 
but do they reason falsely respecting those objects? They only 
draw logical conclusions from unsound premises. 

The same thing happens to the patient in a paroxysm of fever. 
llis mind is beclouded in that part in which images are reflected, 
because the senses, from their imbecility, transmit only fallacious 
notions; but the region of ideas remains uninjured and unalter 
able. As a flame kindled with a substance ever so vile is never 
theless pure fire, though fed with impure aliments, so the mind, 
a celestial flame, rises incorruptible and immortal from the midst 
of corruption and of death. 

17 N 


W th respect to the influence of climate upon the miid, which 
has been alleged as a proof of the material nature of the soul, we 
request the particular attention of the reader to our reply; for, 
instead of answering a mere objection, we shall deduce from the 
very point that is urged against us a remarkable evidence of the 
immortality of the soul. 

It has been observed that nature displays superior energies in 
the north and in the south; that between the tropics we meet 
with the largest quadrupeds, the largest reptiles, the largest birds, 
the largest rivers, the highest mountains; that in the northern 
regions we find the mighty cetaceous tribes, the enormous fucus, 
and the gigantic pine. If all things are the effects of matter, 
combinations of the elements, products of the solar rays, the 
result of cold and heat, moisture and drought, why is man alone 
excepted from this general law? Why is not his physical and 
moral capacity expanded with that of the elephant under the 
line and of the whale at the poles? While all nature is changed* 
by the latitude under which it is placed, why does man alone re 
main everywhere the same? Will you reply that man, like the 
ox, is a native of every region ? The ox, we answer, retains his 
instinct in every climate; and we find that, in respect to man, the 
case is very different. 

Instead of conforming to the general law of nature, instead 
of acquiring higher energy in those climates where matter is 
supposed to be most active, man, on the contrary, dwindles in the 
same ratio as the animal creation around him is enlarged. In 
proof of this, we may mention the Indian, the Peruvian, the 
Negro, in the south; the Esquimaux and the Laplander in the 
north. Nay, more : America, where the mixture of mud and 
water imparts to vegetation all the vigor of a primitive soil 
America is pernicious to the race of man, though it is daily be 
coming less so in proportion as the activity of the material prin 
ciple is reduced. Man possesses not all his energies except in 
those regions where the elements, being more temperate, allow a 
freer scope to the mind; where that mind, being in a manner 
released from its terrestrial clothing, is not restrained in any of 
its motions or in any of its faculties. 

Here, then, we cannot but discover something in direct oppo 
sition to passive nature. Now this something is our immortal 


soul. It accords not with the operations of matter. It s/ckens 
and languishes when in too close contact with it. This languor 
of the soul produces, in its turn, debility of body. The body 
which, had it been alone, would have thriven under the powerful 
influence of the sun, is kept back by the dejection of the mind. 
If it be said that, on the contrary, the body, being incapable of 
enduring the extremities of cold and heat, causes the soul to de 
generate together with itself, this would be mistaking a second 
time the effect for the cause. It is not the mud that acts upon 
the current, but the current that disturbs the mud ; and, in like 
manner, all these pretended effects of the body upon the soul are 
the very reverse the effects of the soul upon the body. 

The twofold debility, mental and physical, of people at the 
north and south, the gravity of temper which seems to oppress 
them, cannot, then, in our opinion, be ascribed to too great relaxa 
tion or tension of the fibre, since the same accidents do not pro- 
*duce the same effects in the temperate zones. This disposition 
of the natives of the polar and tropical regions is a real intel 
lectual dejection, produced by the state of the soul and by its 
struggles against the influence of matter. Thus God has not only 
displayed his wisdom in the advantages which the globe derives 
from the diversity of latitudes, but, by placing man upon this 
species of ladder, he has demonstrated, with almost mathematical 
precision, the immortality of our essence; since the soul possesses 
the greatest energy where matter operates with the least force, 
and the intellectual powers of man diminish where the corporeal 
mass of the brute is augmented. 

Let us consider one more objection: "If the idea of God is 
naturally impressed upon our souls, it ought to precede education 
and reason, and to manifest itself in earliest infancy. Now 
children have no idea of God, consequently/ &c. 

God being a spirit, which cannot be comprehended but by a 
sjririt, a child, in whom the intellectual faculties are not yet de 
veloped, is incapable of forming a conception of the Supreme 
Being. How unreasonable to require the heart to exercise its 
noblest function when it is not yet fully formed when the won 
derful work is yet in the hands of the Maker ! 

It may be asserted, however, that the child has at least the in- 
st.inct of his Creator. Witness his little reveries, his inquietudes, 


his terrors in the night, and his propensity to nvise his ejes to 
heaven. Behold that infant folding his innocent hands and re 
peating after his mother a prayer to the God of mercy. Why 
does this young angel of the earth stammer forth with such love 
and purity the name of that Supreme Being concerning whom 
he knows nothing? 

Who, at the mere sight of a new-born infant, could doubt the 
presence of God within it? Look at the little creature which a 
nurse is carrying in her arms. What has it said that excites 
such joy in that venerable veteran, in the man who has just 
reached his prime, and in that youthful female? Two or three 
half-articulate syllables, which nobody could understand; and this 
alone is sufficient to fill rational beings with transport, from the 
grandfather, who knows all the incidents of life, to the inexperi 
enced mother, who has yet to learn them. Who, then, has con 
ferred such power on the accents of man? Why is the sound of^ 
the human voice so irresistibly moving? What so deeply affects 
you in this instance is a mystery attached to higher causes than 
the interest which you may take in the age of this infant. Some 
thing whispers you that these inarticulate words are the first 
expressions of an immortal soul. 



THERE are two classes of atheists totally distinct from each 
other : the one composed of those who are consistent in their 
principles, declaring without hesitation that there is no God, con 
sequently no essential difference between good and evil, and that 
the world belongs to those who possess the greatest strength or 
the most address; the other embraces those good peop e of the 
system the hypocrites of infidelity; absurd characters, a thou 
sand times more dangerous than the first, and who, with a feigned 
benevolence, would indulge in every excess to support their pre 
tensions ; they would call you brother while cutting your throat 


the words morality and humanity are continually on their lips : 
they are trebly culpable, for to the vices of the atheist they add 
the intolerance of the sectary and the self-love of the author. 

These men pretend that atheism is not destructive either of 
happiness or virtue, and that there is no condition in which it is 
not as profitable to be an infidel as a pious Christian ; a position 
which it may not be amiss to examine. 

If a thing ought to be esteemed in proportion to its greater or 
less utility, atheisnr. must be very contemptible, for it is of use to 

Let us survey human life; let us begin with the poor and the 
unfortunate, as they constitute the majority of mankind. Say, 
countless families of indigence, is it to you that atheism is ser 
viceable? I wait for a reply; but not a single voice is raised in 
its behalf. But what do I hear ? a hymn of hope mingled with 
sighs ascending to the throne of the Lord ! These are believers. 
Let us pass on to the wealthy. 

It would seem that the man who is comfortably situated in this 
world can have no interest in being an atheist. How soothing 
to him must be the reflection that his days will be prolonged be 
yond the present life ! With what despair would he quit this 
world if he conceived that he was parting from happiness for 
ever ! In vain would fortune heap her favors upon him ; they 
would only serve to inspire him with the greater horror of anni 
hilation. The rich man may likewise rest assured that religion 
will enhance his pleasures, by mingling with them an ineffable 
satisfaction ; his heart will not be hardened, nor will he be cloyed 
with enjoyment, which is the natural result of a long series of 
prosperity. Religion prevents aridity of heart, as is intimated 
in her ceremonial. The holy oil which she uses in the consecra 
tion of authority, of youth and of death, teaches us that they are 
not destined to a moral or eternal sterility. 

Will the soldier who marches forth to battle that child of 
gl or y k e an atheist? Will he who seeks an endless life consent 
to perish forever? Appear upon your thundering clouds, ye 
countless Christian warriors, now hosts of heaven ! appear ! From 
your exalted abode, from the holy city, proclaim to the heroes of 
our day that the brave man is not wholly consigned to the tomb, 
and that something more of him survives than an empty name. 


All the great generals of antiquity were remarkable for theii 
piety. Epaminondas, the deliverer of his country, had the cha 
racter of the most religious of men ; Xenophon, that philosophic 
warrior, was a pattern of piety; Alexander, the everlasting model 
of conquerors, gave himself out to be the son of Jupiter. Among 
the Romans, the ancient consuls of the republic, a Cincinnatus, 
a Fabius, a Papirius Cursor, a Paulus JEniilius, a Scipio, placed 
all their reliance on the deity of the Capitol ; Pompey marched 
to battle imploring the divine assistance ; Caesar pretended to 
be of celestial descent; Cato, his rival, was convinced of the im 
mortality of the soul; Brutus, his assassin, believed in the exist 
ence of supernatural powers; and Augustus, his successor, reigned 
only in the name of the gods. 

In modern times was that valiant Sicambrian, the conqueror 
of Rome and of the Gauls, an unbeliever, who, falling at the feet 
of a priest, laid the foundation of the empire of France ? Was 
St. Louis, the arbiter of kings, revered by infidels themselves, 
an unbeliever ? Was the valorous Du Guesclin, whose coffin was 
sufficient for the capture of cities, the Chevalier Bayard, without 
fear and without reproach, the old Constable de Montmorenci, 
who recited his beads in the camp, were these men without re 
ligion ? But, more wonderful still, was the great Turenne, whom 
Bossuet brought back to the bosom of the Church, an unbeliever? 
No character is more admirable than that of the Christian hero 
The people whom he defends look up to him as a father; he pro 
tects the husbandman and the produce of his fields; he is an 
angel of war sent by God to mitigate the horrors of that scourge. 
Cities open their gates at the mere report of his justice ;" ram 
parts fall before his virtue ; he is beloved by the soldier, he is 
idolized by nations; with the courage of the warrior he combines 
the charity of the gospel; his conversation is impressive and in 
structing; his words are full of simplicity; you are astonished to 
find such gentleness in a man accustomed to live in the midst of 
dangers. Thus the honey is hidden under the rugged bark of an 
oak which has braved the tempests of ages. We may safely con 
clude that in no respect whatever is atheism profitable for the 

Neither can we perceive that it would be more useful in the 
different states of nature than in the conditions of society. If 


the moral system is wholly founded on the doctrine of the exist 
ence of God and the immortality of the soul, a father, a son, the 
husband, the wife, can have no interest in heing unbelievers. 
Ah ! how is it possible, for instance, to conceive that a woman 
can be an atheist ? What will support this frail reed if religion 
do not sustain her ? The feeblest being in nature, ever on the 
eve of death or exposed to the loss of her charms, who will save 
her if her hopes be not extended beyond an ephemeral existence? 
For the sake of her beauty alone, woman ought to be pious. 
Gentleness, submission, suavity, tenderness, constitute part of 
the charms which the Creator bestowed on our first mother, and 
to charms of this kind philosophy is a mortal foe. 

Shall woman, who is naturally prone to mystery, who takes 
delight in concealment, who never discloses more than half of 
her graces and of her thoughts, whose mind can be conjectured 
but not known, who as a mother and a maiden is full of secrets, 
who seduces chiefly by her ignorance, whom Heaven formed for 
virtue and the most mysterious of sentiments, modesty and love, 
shall woman, renouncing the engaging instinct of her sex, pre 
sume, with rash and feeble hand, to withdraw the thick vei 
which conceals the Divinity ? Whom doth she think to please 
by this effort, alike absurd and sacrilegious ? Does she hope, by 
mingling her foolish impiety and frivolous metaphysics with the 
imprecations of a Spinosa and the sophistry of a Bayle, to give 
us a high opinion of her genius ? Assuredly she has no thoughts 
of marriage ; for what sensible man would unite himself for life to 
an impious partner? 

The infidel wife seldom has any idea of her duties : she spends 
her days either in reasoning on virtue without practising its pre 
cepts, or in the enjoyment of the tumultuous pleasures of the 
world. Her mind vacant and her heart unsatisfied, life becomes 
a burden to her; neither the thought of G-od, nor any domestic 
cares, afford her happiness. 

But the day of vengeance approaches. Time arrives, leading 
Age by the hand. The spectre with silver hair and icy hands 
plants himself on the threshold of the female atheist; she per 
ceives him and shrieks aloud. Who now will hear her voice? 
Her husband? She has none; long, very long, has he withdrawn 
from the theatre of his dishonor. Her children? Ruined by 


an impious education and by maternal example, they concern 
themselves not about their mother. If she surveys the past, she 
beholds a pathless waste; her virtues have left no traces behind 
them. For the first time her saddened thoughts turn toward 
heaven, and she begins to think how much more consolatory it 
would have been to have a religion. Unavailing regret! The 
crowning punishment of atheism in this world is to desire faith 
without being able to acquire it. When, at the term of her 
career, she discovers the delusions of a false philosophy, when 
annihilation, like an appalling meteor, begins to appear above the 
horizon of death, she would fain return to God; but it is too late : 
the mind, hardened by incredulity, rejects all conviction. Oh ! 
what a frightful solitude appears before her, when God and man 

letire at once from her view ! She dies, this unfortunate woman, 

expiring in the arms of a hireling nurse, or of some man, perhaps, 
who turns with disgust from her protracted sufferings. A com- 
mon coffin now encloses all that remains of her. At her funeral 
we see no daughter overpowered with grief, no sons-in-law or 
grandchildren in tears, forming, with the blessing of the people 
and the hymns of religion, so worthy an escort for the mother of 
a family. Perhaps only a son, who is unknown, and who knows 
not himself the dishonorable secret of his birth, will happen to 
meet the mournful convoy, and will inquire the name of the de 
ceased, whose body is about to be cast to the worms, to which it 
had been promised by the atheist herself! 

How different is the lot of the religious woman ! Her days 
are replete with joy; she is respected, beloved by her husband, 
her children, her household; all place unbounded confidence in 
her, because they are firmly convinced of the fidelity of one who 
is faithful to her God. The faith of this Christian is strength 
ened by her happiness, and her happiness by her faith; she be 
lieves in God because she is happy, and she is happy because she 
believes in God. 

It is enough for a mother to look upon her smiling infant to 
be convinced of the reality of supreme felicity. The bounty of 
Providence is most signally displayed in the cradle of man. What 
affecting harmonies! Could they be only the effects of inani 
mate matter? The child is born, the breast fills; the little guest 
has no teeth that can wound the maternal bosom : he grows, the 


milk becomes more nourishing ; he is weaned, and the wonderful 
fountain ceases to flow. This woman, before so weak, has all at 
once acquired such strength as enables her to bear fatigues which 
a robust man could not possibly endure. What is it that awakens 
her at midnight, at the very moment when her infant is ready to 
demand the accustomed repast? Whence comes that address 
which she never before possessed? How she handles the tender 
flower without hurting it ! Her attentions seem to be the fruit 
of the experience of her whole life, and yet this is her first-born ! 
The slightest noise terrified the virgin : where are the embattled 
armies, the thunders, the perils, capable of appalling the mother? 
Formerly this woman required delicate food, elegant apparel, and 
a soft couch ; the least breath of air incommoded her : now, a 
crust of bread, a common dress, a handful of straw, are sufficient; 
nor wind, nor rain, scarcely makes any impression, while she has 
in her breast a drop of milk to nourish her son and in her tat 
tered garments a corner to cover him. 

Such being the state of things, he must be extremely obstinate 
who would not espouse the cause in behalf of which not only 
reason finds the most numerous evidences, but to which morals, 
happiness, and hope, nay, even instinct itself, and all the desires 
of the soul, naturally impel us; for if it were as true as it is false, 
that the understanding keeps the balance even between God and 
atheism, still it is certain that it would preponderate much in 
favor of the former; for, besides half of his reason, man puts the 
whole weight of his heart into the scale of the Deity. 

Of this truth you will be thoroughly convinced if you examine 
the very different manner in which atheism and religion proceed 
in their reasoning. 

Religion adduces none but general proofs; she founds her judg 
ment only on the harmony of the heavens and the immutable laws 
of the universe; she views only the graces of nature, the charm 
ing instincts of animals, and their exquisite conformities with 


Atheism sets before you nothing but hideous exceptions; it 
seek naught but calamities, unhealthy marshes, destructive v :j- 
canoes, noxious animals; and, as if it were anxious to conceal it 
self in the mire, it interrogates the reptiles and insects that they 
may furnish it with proofs against God. 


Religion speaks only of the grandeur and beauty of man. 
Atheism is continually setting the leprosy and plague before our 

Religion derives her reasons from the sensibility of the soul, 
from the tenderest attachments of life, from filial piety, conjugal 
love, and maternal affection. 

Atheism reduces every thing to the instinct of the brute, and, 
as the first argument of its system, displays to you a heart that 
naught is capable of moving. 

Religion assures us that our afflictions dhall have an end; she 
comforts us, she dries our tears, she promises us another life. 

On the contrary, in the abominable worship of atheism, human 
woes are the incense, death is the priest, a coffin the altar, and 
annihilation the Deity. 





THE existence of a Supreme Being once acknowledged, and 
the immortality of the soul granted, there can be no farther dif 
ficulty to admit a state of rewards and punishments after this 
life; this last tenet is a necessary consequence of the other two. 
All that remains for us, therefore, is to show how full of morality 
and poetry this doctrine is, and how far superior the religion of 
the gospel is in this respect to all other religions. 

In the Elysium of the ancients we find none but heroes and 
persons who had either been fortunate or distinguished on earth. 
Children, and, apparently, slaves and the lower class of men, that 
is to say, misfortune and innocence, were banished to the infernal 
regions. And what rewards for virtue were those feasts and 
dances, the everlasting duration of which would be sufficient to 
constitute one of the torments of Tartarus ! 

Mahomet promises other enjoyments. His paradise is a land 


of musk and of the purest wheaten flour, watered by the river 
of life and the Acawtar, another stream which rises under the 
roots of Tuba, or the tree of happiness. Streams springing up in 
grottos of ambergris, and bordered with aloes, murmur beneath 
golden palm-trees. On the shores of a quadrangular lake stand 
a thousand goblets made of stars, out of which the souls predes 
tined to felicity imbibe the crystal wave. All the elect, seated on 
silken carpets, at the entrance of their tents, eat of the terrestrial 
globe, reduced by Allah into a wonderful cake. A number of 
eunuchs and seventy-two black-eyed damsels place before them, 
in three hundred dishes of gold, the fish Nun and the ribs of the 
buffalo Balam. The angel Israfil sings, without ceasing, the most 
enchanting songs; the immortal virgins with their voices accom 
pany his strains; and the souls of virtuous poets, lodged in the 
throats of certain birds that are hovering round the tree of hap 
piness, join the celestial choir. Meanwhile the crystal bells sus 
pended in the golden palm-trees are melodiously agitated by a 
breeze which issues from the throne of God. 1 

The joys of the Scandinavian heaven were sanguinary, but there 
was a degree of grandeur in the pleasures ascribed to the martial 
shades, and in the power of gathering the storm and guiding the 
whirlwind which they were said to possess. This paradise was the 
image of the kind of life led by the barbarian of the north. 
Wandering along the wild shores of his country, the dreary sounds 
emitted by ocean plunged his soul into deep reveries; thought 
succeeded thought, as in the billows murmur followed murmur, 
till, bewildered in the mazes of his desires, he mingled with the 
elements, rode upon the fleeting clouds, rocked the leafless forest, 
and flew across the seas upon the wings of the tempest. 

The hell of the unbelieving nations is as capricious as their 
heaven. Our observations on the Tartarus of the ancients we 
shall reserve for the literary portion of our work, on which we 
are about to enter. Be this as it may, the rewards which Chris 
tianity promises to virtue, and the punishments with which it 
threatens guilt, produce at the first glance a conviction of their 
truth. The heaven and hell of Christians are not devised after 
the manners of any particular people, but founded on the general 

The Koran and the Arabic poets. 


ideas that are adapted to all nations and to all classes of society 
What can be more simple, and yet more sublime, than the truths 
conveyed in these few words ! the felicity of the righteous in a 
future life will consist in the full possession of God; the misery 
of the wicked will arise from a knowledge of the perfections 
of the Deity, and from being forever deprived of their enjoy 

It may perhaps be said that here Christianity merely repeats 
the lessons of the schools of Plato and Pythagoras. In this case, 
it must at least be admitted that the Christian religion is not the 
religion of shallow minds, since it inculcates what are acknow 
ledged to have been the doctrines of sages. 

The Gentiles, in fact, reproached the primitive Christians with 
being nothing more than a sect of philosophers ; but were it cer 
tain (what is not proved) that the sages of antiquity entertained 
the same notions that Christianity holds respecting a future state, 
still, a truth confined within a narrow circle of chosen disciples is 
one thing, and a truth which has become the universal consolation 
of mankind is another. What the brightest geniuses of Greece 
discovered by a last effort of reason is now publicly taught in 
every church; and the laborer, for a few pence, may purchase, 
in the catechism of his children, the most sublime secrets of the 
ancient sects. 

W T e shall say nothing here on the subject of Purgatory, as we 
shall examine it hereafter under its moral and poetical aspects. 
4s to the principle which has produced this place of expiation, it 
is founded in reason itself, since between vice and virtue there ia 
a state of tepidity which merits neither the punishment of hell 
nor t) e rewards of heaven 




THE Fathers entertained different opinions respecting the state 
of the soul of the righteous immediately after its separation from 
the body. St. Augustin thinks that it is placed in an abode of 
peace till it be reunited to its incorruptible body. 1 St. Bernard 
believes that it is received into heaven, where it contemplates 
the humanity of Jesus Christ, but not his divinity, which it will 
enjoy only after the resurrection ; 2 in some other parts of his ser 
mons he assures us that it enters immediately into the pleni 
tude of celestial felicity; 3 and this opinion the Church seems to 
have adopted. 4 

But, as it is just that the body and soul, which have together 
committed sin or practised virtue, should suffer or be rewarded 
together, so religion teaches us that he who formed us out of 
dust will summon us a second time before his tribunal. The 
stoic school believed, as Christians do, in hell, paradise, purga 
tory, and the resurrection of the body; 5 and the Magi had also a 

1 De Trinit., lib. xv. c. 25. 

2 Serm. in Sanet. omn., 1, 2, 3 ; De Consider at., lib. v. c. 4. 

3 Serm. 2, de S. Malac. n. 5; Serm. de S. Viet., n. 4. 

4 It is an article of Catholic faith, that the souls of the just, who have nothing 
to atone for after their departure from this life, are admitted immediately to the 
beatific vision. Though some of the early fathers supposed that this happiness 
would be deferred until after the resurrection, they were not on that account 
taxable with heresy, because the tradition of the Church was not yet plainly 
manifested. This tradition is gathered, not from the opinions of a few fathers 
or doctors, but from the sentiment generally held. The declarations of the 
second Counul of Lyons in 1274, that of Florence in 1439, and the Tridentine 
Synod in the sixteenth century, have explicitly determined the question. St. 
Augustine, after his elevation to the episcopacy, coincided with the prevailing 
sentiment on this point. Tract. 26 and 49 in loan, lib. 9; Confess, c. 3. The 
passages from St. Bernard which seem to conflict with that sentiment are all 
susceptible of an orthodox interpretation. T. 

5 Senec., Epist 90 : Id., ad. Marc. ; Laert., lib. vii. ; Plut., in Resig. Stoic, 
: in fxc. Inn. 



confused idea of this last doctrine. 1 The Egyptians hoped to 
reviv3 after they had passed a thousand years in the tomb; 3 and 
the Sybilline verses mention the resurrection and the last judg 
ment. 3 

Pliny, in his strictures on Democritus, informs us what was 
the opinion of that philosopher on the subject of the resurrection : 
Similis et de asservandis corporibus hominum, ac reviviscendi 
promi&sa d Dcmocrito vanitas, qui non vixit ipse.* 

The resurrection is clearly expressed in these verses of Phocy- 
lides on the ashes of the dead : 

Ov KaXov appoviiiv avaXv^iitv avSpwtroio. 
Kai ra\a 6 iic yafrjf L\Tti(,0(iv If $aoj c\6civ 
omot\>i> oiriao) fe Sc 

" It is impious to disperse the remains of man ; for the ashes 
and the bones of the dead shall return to life, and shall become 
like unto gods." 

Virgil obscurely hints at the doctrine of the resurrection in the 
sixth book of the ^Eneid. 

But how is it possible for atoms dispersed among all the ele 
ments to be again united and to form the same bodies ? It is a 
long time since this objection was first urged, and it has been 
answered by most of the Fathers. 5 "Tell me what thou art," 
said Tertullian, "and I will tell thee what thou shalt be." 6 

Nothing can be more striking and awful than the moment of 
the final consummation of ages foretold by Christianity. In those 
days baleful signs will appear in the heavens; the depths of the 
abyss will open ; the seven angels will pour out their vials filled 
with wrath; nations will destroy each other; mothers will hear 
the wailings of their children yet in the womb; and Death, on 
his pale horse, will speed his course through the kingdoms of the 
earth. 7 

1 Hyde, Belig. Pers. ; Plut., de Is. et Osir. 

2 Diod. et Herodot. 

3 Bocchus, in Solin., c. 8 ; Lack, lib. viii., c. 29 j lib. iv. c. 15, 18, 19. 

4 Lib. vii. c. 55. 

5 St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, Catech., xviii. St. Greg. Nat. Oret. pro #. 
Cam.; St. August., de Civ. Dei, lib. xx.j St. Chrys., Homil in Resur. Cam.: 
St. Gregor. pope, Dial, iv. j St. Ainb., Serm. in Fid. res. ; St. Epiph. Ancyrot. 

Tn Apologet. ? Apocalypse. 


Meanwhile the globe begins to tremble on its axis; the moon 
is covered with a bloody veil; the threatening stars hang half 
detached from the vault of heaven, and the agony of the world 
commences. Then, all at once, the fatal hour strikes; God sus 
pends the movements of the creation, and the earth hath passed 
away like an exhausted river. 

Now resounds the trump of the angel of judgment; and the 
cry is heard, "Arise, ye dead!" The sepulchres burst open with 
a terrific noise, the human race issues all at once from the tomb, 
and the assembled multitudes fill the valley of Jehoshaphat. 

Behold, the Son of Man appears in the clouds : the powers 
of hell ascend from the depths of the abyss to witness the last 
judgment pronounced upon ages ; the goats are separated from 
the sheep, the wicked are plunged into the gulf, the just ascend 
triumphantly to heaven, God returns to his repose, and the 
reign of eternity commences. 



IT has been asked, what is that plenitude of celestial happi 
ness promised to virtue by Christianity? we have heard com 
plaints of its too great mysteriousness. In the mythological 
systems, it is said, " people could at least form an idea of the 
pleasures of the happy shades ; but who can have any conception 
of the felicity of the elect ?" 

Fenelon, however, had a glimpse of that felicity in his relation 
of the descent of Telemachus to the abode of the manes : his 
Elysium is evidently a Christian paradise. Compare his descrip 
tion with the Elysium of the ^Eneid, and you will perceive what 
progress has been made by the mind and heart of man under the 
influence of Christianity. 

" A soft and pure light is diffused around the bodies of those 
righteous men, and environs them with its rays like a garment. 
This light is not like the sombre beams which illumine the eyes 


of wretched mortals; it is rather a celestial radiance than a 
light ; it pervades the thickest bodies more completely than the 
sun s rays penetrate the purest crystal ; it doth not dazzle, but, 
on the contrary, strengthens the eyes, and conveys inexpressible 
serenity to the soul ; by this alone the blest are nourished ; it 
issues from them and it enters them again; it penetrates and is 
incorporated with them as aliments are incorporated with the 
body. They see, they feel, they breathe it; it causes an inex 
haustible source of peace and joy to spring up within them; they 
are plunged into this abyss of delight, as the fishes are merged in 
the sea; they know no wants; they possess all without having 
any thing; for this feast of pure light appeases the hunger of 
their hearts. 

"An eternal youth, a felicity without end, a radiance wholly 
divine, glows upon their faces. But their joy has nothing light or 
licentious; it is a joy soothing, noble, and replete with majesty; 
a sublime love of truth and virtue, which transports them ; they 
feel every moment, without interruption, the same raptures as a 
mother who once more beholds her beloved son whom she believed 
to be dead ; and that joy, which is soon over for the mother, 
never leaves the hearts of these glorified beings." 1 

The most glowing passages of the Phaedon of Plato are less 
divine than this picture ; and yet Fe"nelon, confined within the 
limits of his story, could not attribute to the shades all the 
felicity which he would have ascribed to the elect in heaven. 

The purest of -our sentiments in this world is admiration ; but 
this terrestrial admiration is always mingled with weakness, 
either in the person admiring or in the object admired. Imagine, 
then, a perfect being, the source of all beings, in whom is clearly 
and sacredly manifested all that was, and is, and is to come; 
suppose, at the same time, a soul exempt from envy and wants, 
incorruptible, unalterable, indefatigable, capable of attention 
without end ; figure to yourself this soul contemplating the Om 
nipotent, incessantly discovering in him new attributes and new 
perfections, proceeding from admiration to admiration, and con 
scious of its existence only by the ceaseless feeling of this very 
admiration; consider, moreover, the Deity as supreme beauty, 

1 Telem., book xiv. 


as the universal principle of love ; represent to yourself all the 
friendships of the earth meeting together, and lost in this abyss 
of sentiments like drops of water in the vast ocean, so that the 
happy spirit is wholly absorbed by the love of God, without, 
however, ceasing to love the friends whom it esteemed here 
below; lastly, persuade yourself that the blest are thoroughly con 
vinced of the endless duration of their happiness r 1 you will then 
have an idea though very imperfect, it is true of the felicity 
of the righteous ; you will then comprehend that the choir of the 
redeemed can do nothing but repeat the song of Holy! holy! 
holy! which is incessantly dying away, and incessantly reviving, 
in the everlasting ecstasies of heaven. 

1 St. Augustin. 

fart % SttmU. 






THE felicity of the blessed sung by the Christian Home* 
naturally leads us to consider the effects of Christianity in poetry 
In treating of the spirit of that religion, how could we forget its 
influence on literature and the arts an influence which has in a 
manner changed the human mind, and produced in modern 
Europe nations totally different from those of ancient times ? 

The reader, perhaps, will not be displeased if we conduct him 
to Horeb and Sinai, to the summits of Ida and of the Taygetus, 
among the sons of Jacob and of Priam, into the company of the 
gods and of the shepherds. A poetic voice issues from the ruing 
which cover Greece and Idumaea, and cries from afar to the tra 
veller, " There are but two brilliant names and recollections in 
history those of the Israelites and of the ancient Greeks." 

The twelve 1 books which we have devoted to these literary in 
vestigations compose, as we have observed, the second and third 
parts of our work, and separate the six books on the doctrines 
from the six books on the ceremonies of the Christian religion. 

1 Now ten only; Atala and Rene, two episodes of the original work, having 
been retrenched by tho author. T. 


We shall, in the first place, take a view of the poems in which 
that religion supplies the place of mythology, because the epic 
is the highest class of poetic compositions. Aristotle, it is true, 
asserts that the epic poem is wholly comprised in tragedy; but 
might we not think, on the contrary, that the drama is wholly 
comprised in the epic poem ? The parting of Hector and 
Andromache, Priam in the tent of Achilles, Dido at Carthage, 
JEneas at the habitation of Evander or sending back the body 
of the youthful Pallas, Tancred and Ernrinia, Adam and Evr, 
are real tragedies, in which nothing is wanting but the division 
into scenes and the names of the speakers. Was it not, more 
over, the Iliad that gave birth to tragedy, as the Margites was 
the parent of comedy? 1 But if Calliope decks herself with all 
the ornaments of Melpomene, the former has charms which the 
latter cannot borrow; for the marvellous, the descriptive, and the 
digressive, are not within the scope of the drama. Every kind 
of tone, the comic not excepted, every species of poetic harmony, 
from the lyre to the trumpet, may be introduced in the epic. 
The epic poem, therefore, has parts which the drama has not : it 
consequently requires a more universal genius ; it is of course a 
more complete performance than a tragedy. It seems, in fact, 
highly probable that there should be less difficulty in composing 
the five acts of an (Edipus than in creating the twenty-four 
books of an Iliad. The result of a few months labor is not the 
monument that requires the application of a lifetime. Sophocles 
and Euripides were, doubtless, great geniuses } but have they 
obtained from succeeding ages that admiration and high renown 
which have been so justly awarded to Homer and Virgil ? Finally, 
if the drama holds the first rank in composition, and the epic 
only the second, how has it happened that, from the Greeks to 
the present day, we can reckon but five epic poems, two ancient 
and three modern : whereas there is not a nation but can boast 
of possessing a multitude of excellent tragedies. 

i The Margites was a comic or satirical poem attributed to Homer. It is 
mentioned by Aristotle in his Treatise on Poetry, but no part of it is known to 
have escaped the ravages of time. 






LET us first lay down certain principles. 

Tn every epic poem, men and their passions are calculated to 
occupy the first and most important place. 

Every poem, therefore, in which any religion is employed as 
the subject and not as an accessory, in which the marvellous is 
the ground and not the accident of the picture, is essentially 

If Homer and Virgil had laid their scenes in Olympus, it is 
doubtful whether, with all their genius, they would have been 
able to sustain the dramatic interest to the end. Agreeably to 
this remark, we must not ascribe to Christianity the languor that 
pervades certain poems in which the principal characters are 
supernatural beings ; this languor arises from the fault of the 
composition. We shall find in confirmation of this truth, that 
the more the poet observes a due medium in the epic between 
divine and human things, the more entertaining he is, if we may 
be allowed to use an expression of Boileau. To amuse, for the 
purpose of instructing, is the first quality required in poetry. 

Passing over several poems written in a barbarous Latin style, 
the first work that demands our attention is the Divina Comcdia 
of Dante. The beauties of this singular production proceed, 
with few exceptions, from Christianity: its faults are to be as 
cribed to the age and the bad taste of the author. In the pa 
thetic and the terrific, Dante has, perhaps, equalled the greatest 
poets. The details of his poem will be a subject of future con 

Modern times have afforded but two grand subjects for an epic 
poem the Crusades, and the Discovery of the New World. Mal- 
filatre purposed to sing the latter. The Muses still lament the 
premature decease of this youthful poet before he had time to 


accomplish his design. This subject, however, has the dis 
advantage of being foreign for a Frenchman ; and according to 
another principle, the truth of which cannot be con-jested, a poet 
ought to adopt an ancient subject, or, if he select a modern 
one, should by all means take his own nation for his theme. 

The mention of the Crusades reminds us of the Jerusalem 
Delivered. This poem is a perfect model of composition. Here 
you may learn how to blend subjects together without confusion. 
The art with which Tasso transports you from a battle to a love- 
scene, from a love-scene to a council, from a procession to an 
enchanted palace, from an enchanted palace to a camp, from an 
assault to the grotto of an anchorite, from the tumult of a be 
sieged city to the hut of a shepherd, is truly admirable. His 
characters are drawn with no less ability. The ferocity of Argantes 
is opposed to the generosity of Tancred, the greatness of Soly- 
man to the splendor of Rinaldo, the wisdom of Godfrey to the 
craft of Aladin; and even Peter the hermit, as Voltaire has 
remarked, forms a striking contrast with Ismeno the magician. 
As to the females, coquetry is depicted in Armida, sensibility in 
Erminia, and indifference in Clorinda. Had Tasso portrayed 
the mother, he would have made the complete circle of female 
characters. The reason of this omission must, perhaps, be sought 
in the nature of his talents, which possessed more charms than 
truth, and greater brilliancy than tenderness. 

Homer seems to have been particularly endowed with genius, 
Virgil with sensibility, Tasso with imagination. We should not 
hesitate what place to assign to the Italian bard, had he some of 
those pensive graces which impart such sweetness to the sighs of 
the Mantuan swan ; for he is far superior to the latter in his 
characters, battles, and composition. But Tasso almost always 
fails when he attempts to express the feelings of the heart; and, 
as the traits of the soul constitute the genuine beauties of a poem, 
he necessarily falls short of the pathos of Virgil. 

If the Jerusalem Delivered is adorned with the flowers of ex 
quisite poetry, if it breathes the youth, the loves, and the afflic 
tions, of that great and unfortunate man who produced this mas 
ter-piece in his juvenile years, we likewise perceive in it the 
faults of an age not sufficiently mature for such a high attempt 
as an epic poem. Tasso s measure of eight feet is hardly ever 


full ; and his versification, which often exhibits marks of haste, 
cannot be compared to that of Virgil, a hundred times tem 
pered in the fire of the Muses. It must likewise be remarked 
that the ideas of Tasso are not of so fair a family as those of the 
Latin bard. The works of the ancients may be known, we had 
almost said, by their blood. They display not, like us, a few 
brilliant ideas sparkling in the midst of a multitude of common 
place observations, so much as a series of beautiful thoughts, 
which perfectly harmonize together, and have a sort of family 
likeness. It is the naked group of Niobe s simple, modest, blush 
ing children, holding each other by the hand with an engaging 
smile, while a chaplet of flowers, their only ornament, encircles 
their brows. 

After the Jerusalem Delivered, it must be allowed that some 
thing excellent maybe produced with a Christian subject. What 
would it then have been had Tasso ventured to employ all the 
grand machinery which Christianity could have supplied ? It is 
obvious that he was deficient in boldness. His timidity has 
obliged him to have recourse to the petty expedients of magic, 
whereas he might have turned to prodigious account the tomb of 
Jesus Christ, which he scarcely mentions, and a region hallowed 
by so many miracles. The same timidity has occasioned his 
failure in the description of heaven, while his picture of hell 
shows many marks of bad taste. It may be added that he has 
not availed himself as much as he might have done of the Mo 
hammedan religion, the rites of which are the more curious as 
being the less known. Finally, he might have taken some notice 
f ancient Asia, of Egypt so highly renowned, of Babylon so 
vast, and Tyre so haughty, and of the times of Solomon and 
Isaias. How could the muse, when visiting the land of Israel 
forget the harp of David ? Are the voices of the prophets no 
longer to be heard on the summits of Lebanon ? Do not their 
holy shades still appear beneath the cedars and among the pines ? 
Has the choir of angels ceased to sing upon Golgotha, and the 
M-ook Cedron to murmur ? Surely the patriarchs, and Syria, the 
nursery of the world, celebrated in some part of the Jerusalem 
delivered, could not have failed to produce a grand efiect. 1 

1 The reader s attention may here be invited to Palestine, an Oxford IriTe 
poem, wnttea by Mr. Reginald Hober. It derives its various and exquilito 




THE Paradise Lost of Milton may be charged with the same 
fault as the Inferno of Dante. The marvellous forms the subject, 
and not the machinery, of the poem ; but it abounds with superior 
beauties which essentially belong to the groundwork of our 

The poem opens in the infernal world, and yet this beginning 
offends in no respect against the rule of simplicity laid down by 
Aristotle. An edifice so astonishing required an extraordinary 
portico to introduce the reader all at once into this unknown 
world, which he was no more to quit. 

Milton is the first poet who has closed the epic with the mis 
fortune of the principal character, contrary to the rule generally 
adopted. We are of opinion, however, that there is something 
more interesting, more solemn, more congenial with the condition 
of human nature, in a history which ends in sorrows, than in one 
which has a happy termination. It may even be asserted that 
the catastrophe of the Iliad is tragical ; for if the son of Peleus 
obtains the object of his wishes, still the conclusion of the poem 
leaves a deep impression of grief. 1 After witnessing the funeral 
of Patroclus, Priam redeeming the body of Hector, the anguish 

beauties chiefly from Scriptural sources. Mr. Heber, endued with a large por 
tion of Tasso s genius, has supplied many of Tasso s deficiences, so ably enu 
merated by our author. K. 

1 This sentiment, perhaps, arises from the interest which is felt for Hector. 
Hector is as much the hero of the poem as Achilles, and this is the great fault 
of the Iliad. The reader s affections are certainly engaged by the Trojans, 
contrary to the intention of the poet, because all the dramatic scenes occur 
within the walls of Ilium. The aged monarch, Priam, whose only crime was 
too much love for a guilty son, the generous Hector, who was acquainted with 
his brother s fault, and yet defended that brother, Andromache, Astyanax, 
Hecuba, melt every heart; whereas the camp of the Greeks exhibits naught 
but avarice, perfidy, and ferocity. Perhaps, also, the remembrance of the JEneid 
secretly influences the modern reader and he unintentionally espouses the side 
of the heroes sung by Virgil. 


of Hecuba and Andromache at the funeral pile of that hero, 
we still perceive in the distance the death of Achilles and the 
fall of Troy. 

The infancy of Rome, sung by Virgil, is certainly a grand sub 
ject; but what shall we say of a poem that depicts a catastrophe 
of which we are ourselves the victims, and which exhibits to us 
not the founder of this or that community, but the father of the 
human race ? Milton describes neither battles, nor funeral games, 
nor camps, nor sieges : he displays the grand idea of God mani 
fested in the creation of the universe, and the first thoughts of 
man on issuing from the hands of his Maker. 

Nothing can be more august and more interesting than this 
study of the first emotions of the human heart. Adam awakes 
to life; his eyes open; he knows not whence he originates. He 
gazes on the firmament ; he attempts to spring toward this beau 
tiful vault, and stands erect, with his head nobly raised to heaven. 
He examines himself, he touches his limbs ; he runs, he stops ; 
he attempts to speak, and his obedient tongue gives utterance to 
his thoughts. He naturally names whatever he sees, exclaiming, 
"O sun, and trees, forests, hills, valleys, and ye different ani 
mals !" and all the names which he gives are the proper appella 
tions of the respective beings. And why does he exclaim, "0 
sun, and ye trees, know ye the name of Him who created me ?" 
The first sentiment experienced by man relates to the existence 
of a Supreme Being; the first want he feels is the want of a 
God ! How sublime is Milton in this passage ! But would he 
have conceived such grand, such lofty ideas, had he been a 
stranger to the true religion ? 

God manifests himself to Adam ; the creature and the Creator 
hold converse together; they discourse on solitude. We omit 
the reflections. God knew that it was not good for man to be 
alone. Adam falls asleep ; God takes from the side of our com 
mon father the substance out of which he fashions a new crea 
ture, whom he conducts to him on his waking. 

Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye, 
In every gesture dignity and love. 

Woman is her name, of man 

Extracted ; for this cause he shall forego 
Father and mother, and to his wife adhere; 
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul. 


Wo to him who cannot perceive here a reflection of the Deity ! 

The poet continues to develop these grand views of human 
nature, this sublime reason of Christianity. The character of 
vhe woman is admirably delineated in the fatal fall. Eve trans 
gresses by self-love ; she boasts that she is strong enough alone 
to encounter temptation. She is unwilling that Adam should 
accompany her to the solitary spot where she cultivates her 
flowers. This fair creature, who thinks herself invincible by rea 
son of her very weakness, knows not that a single word can sub 
due her. Woman is always delineated in the Scripture as the 
slave of vanity. When Isaias threatens the daughters of Jeru 
salem, he says, " The Lord will take away your ear-rings, your 
bracelets, your rings, and your veils." We have witnessed in our 
own days a striking instance of this disposition. Many a woman, 
during the reign of terror, exhibited numberless proofs of hero 
ism, whose virtue has since fallen a victim to a dance, a dress, an 
amusement. Here we have the development of one of those 
great and mysterious truths contained in the Scriptures. God, 
when he doomed woman to bring forth with pain, conferred v~ on 
her an invincible fortitude against pain ; but at the same time, 
as a punishment for her fault, he left her weak against pleasure. 
Milton accordingly denominates her "this fair defect of nature." 

The manner in which the English bard has conducted the fall 
of our first parents is well worthy of our examination. An ordi 
nary genius would not have failed to convulse the world at the 
moment when Eve raises the fatal fruit to her lips; but Milton 
merely represents that 

Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat, 
Sighing, through all her works gave signs of wo 
That all was lost. 

The reader is, in fact, the more surprised, because this effect is 
much less surprising. What calamities does this present tran 
quillity of nature lead us to anticipate in future! Tertullian, 
inquiring why the universe is not disturbed by the crimes of 
men, adduces a sublime reason. This reason is, the PATIENCE 
of God. 

When the mother of mankind presents the fruit of knowledge 
to her husband, our common father does not roll himself in th 


dust, or tear his hair, or loudly vent his grief. On the con 

Adam, soon as he heard 
The fatal trespass done by Eve, amaz d, 
Astonied stood and blank, while horror chill 
Ran through his veins, and all his joints relax d. 
Speechless he stood, and pale. 

He perceives the whole enormity of the crime. On the one hand, 
if he disobey, he will incur the penalty of death; on the other, 
if he continue faithful, he will retain his immortality, but will 
lose his beloved partner, now devoted to the grave. He may re 
fuse the fruit, but can he live without Eve? The conflict is long. 
A world at last is sacrificed to love. Adam, instead of loading 
his wife with reproaches, endeavors to console her, and accepts 
the fatal apple from her hands. On this consummation -of the 
crime, no change yet takes place in nature. Only the first storms 
of the passions begin to agitate the hearts of the unhappy pair. 

Adam and Eve fall asleep; but they have lost that innocence 
which renders slumber refreshing. From this troubled sleep they 
rise as from unrest. Tis then that their guilt stares them in the 
face. "What have we done?" exclaims Adam. "Why art thou 
naked? Let us seek a covering for ourselves, lest any one see us 
in this state !" But clothing does not conceal the nudity which 
has been once seen. 

Meanwhile their crime is known in heaven. A holy sadness 
seizes the angels, but 

Mix d 

With pity, violated not their bliss. 

A truly Christian and sublime idea! God sends his Son to judge 
the guilty. He comes and calls Adam in the solitude: "Where 
art thou?" Adam hides himself from his presence: "Lord, I 
dare not show myself, because I am naked." "How dost thou 
know thyself to be naked ? Hast thou eaten the fruit of know 
ledge?" What a dialogue passes between them! It is not of 
human invention. Adam confesses his crime, and God pro 
nounces sentence: 1 "Man! in the sweat of thy brow shalt thou 
eat bread. In sorrow shalt thou cultivate the earth, till thou re- 

1 Genesis, iii. ; Paradise Lost, book x. 


turn unto dust from which thou wast taken. Woman, thou shalt 
bring forth children with pain." Such, in a few words, is the 
history of the human race. We know not if the reader is struck 
by it as we are; but we find in this scene of Genesis something 
so extraordinary and so grand that it defies all the comments of 
criticism. Admiration wants terms to express itself with ade 
quate force, and art sinks into nothing. 

The Son of God returns to heaven. Then commences that 
celebrated drama between Adam and Eve in which Milton is said 
to have recorded an event of his own life the reconciliation be 
tween himself and his first consort. We are persuaded that the 
great writers have introduced their history into their works. It 
is only by delineating their own hearts, and attributing them to 
others, that they are enabled to give such exquisite pictures of 
nature ; for the better part of genius consists in recollections. 

Behold Adam now retiring at night in some lonely spot. The 
nature of the air is changed. Cold vapors and thick clouds ob 
scure the face of heaven. The lightning has scathed the trees. 
The animals flee at the sight of man. The wolf begins to pursue 
the lamb, the vulture to prey upon the dove. He is overwhelmed 
with despair. He wishes to return to his native dust. YP* 
says he, 

One doubt 

Pursues me still, lest all I cannot die ; 
Lest that pure breath of life, the spirit of man, 
Which God inspired, cannot together perish 
With corporeal clod; then in the grave, 
Or in some other dismal place, who knows 
But I shall die a living death ? 

Can philosophy require a species of beauties more exalted and 
more solemn ? Not only the poets of antiquity furnish no instance 
of a despair founded on such a basis, but moralists themselves 
have conceived nothing so sublime. 

Eve, hearing her husband s lamentations, approaches with 
timidity. Adam sternly repels her. Eve falls humbly at his 
feet and bathes them with her tears. Adam relents, and raises 
the mother of the human race. Eve proposes to him to live in 
continence, or to inflict death upon themselves to pave their poste 
rity. This despair, so admirably ascribed to a woman, as well for 


its vehemence as for its generosity, strikes our common father 
What reply does he make to his wife? 

Eve, thy contempt of life and pleasure seems 
To aigue in thee something more sublime 
And excellent than what thy mind contemns. 

The unfortunate pair resolve to offer up their prayers to God, 
and to implore the mercy of the Almighty. Prostrating them 
selves on the ground, they raise their hearts and voices, in a spirit 
of profound humility, toward Him who is the source of forgive 
ness. These accents ascend to heaven, where the Son himself 
undertakes the office of presenting them to his Father. The 
suppliant prayers which follow Injury, to repair the mischiefs she 
has occasioned, are justly admired in the Iliad. It would indeed 
be impossible to invent a more beautiful allegory on the subject 
of prayer. Yet those first sighs of a contrite heart, which find 
the way that the sighs of the whole human race are soon destined 
to follow, those humble prayers which mingle with the incense 
fuming before the Holy of Holies, those penitent tears which fill 
the celestial spirits with joy, which are presented to the Almighty 
by the Redeemer of mankind, and which move God himself, (such 
is the power of this first prayer in repentant and unhappy man,) 
all those circumstances combined have in them something so 
moral, so solemn, and so pathetic, that they cannot be said to be 
eclipsed by the prayer* of the bard of Ilium. 

The Most High relents, and decrees the final salvation of man. 
Milton has availed himself with great ability of this first mystery 
of the Scriptures, and has everywhere interwoven the impressive 
history of a God, who, from the commencement of ages, devotes 
himself to death to redeem man from destruction. The fall of 
Adam acquires a higher and more tragic interest when we behold 
it involving in its consequences the Son of the Almighty himself. 

Independently of these beauties which belong to the subject of 
the Paradise Lost, the work displays minor beauties too nume 
rous for us to notice. Milton had, in particular, an extraordinary 
felicity of expression. Every reader is acquainted with his dark 
ness visible, his incased silence, &c. These bold expressions, when 
sparingly employed, like discords in music, produce a highly 
brilliant effect They have a counter air of genius; but great 


care must be taken not to abuse them. When tc< studiously 
sought after, they dwindle into a mere puerile play upon words, 
as injurious to the language as they are inconsistent with good 

We shall, moreover, observe that the bard of Eden, after the 
example of Virgil, has acquired originality in appropriating to 
himself the riches of others; which proves that the original style 
is not the style which never borrows of any one, but that which 
no other person is capable of reproducing. 

This art of imitation, known to all great writers, consists in a 
certain delicacy of taste which seizes the beauties of other times, 
and accommodates them to the present age and manners. Virgil 
is a model in this respect. Observe how he has transferred to 
the mother of Euryalus the lamentations of Andromache on the 
death of Hector. In this passage Homer is rather more natural 
tha.n the Mantuan poet, whom he has moreover furnished with 
all the striking circumstances, such as the work falling from the 
hands of Andromache, her fainting, &c., while there are others, 
which are not in the ^neid, as Andromache s presentiment of 
her misfortune, and her appearance with dishevelled tresses upon 
the battlements; but then the episode of Euryalus is more tender, 
more pathetic. The mother who alone, of all the Trojan women, 
resolved to follow the fortunes of her son; the garments with 
which her maternal affection was engaged and now rendered use 
less; her exile, her age, her forlorn condition at the very moment 
when the head of her Euryalus was carried under the ramparts 
of the camp; such are the conceptions of Virgil alone. The 
lamentations of Andromache, being more diffuse, lose something 
of their energy. Those of the mother of Euryalus, more closely 
concentrated, fall with increased weight upon the heart. This 
proves that there was already a great difference between the age 
of Virgil and Homer, and that in the time of the former all the 
arts, even that of love, had arrived at a higher perfection. 





HAD Christianity produced no other poem than Paradise Lost, 
had its genius inspired neither the Jerusalem Delivered, nor 
Polyeuctes, nor Esther, nor Athalie, nor Zara, nor Alzira, still 
we might insist that it is highly favorable to the Muses. We 
shall notice in this chapter, between Paradise Lost and the Jlen- 
riad, some French and foreign productions, on which we have 
but a few words to say. 

The more remarkable passages in the Saint Louis of Father 
Lemoine have been so frequently quoted that we shall not refer 
to them here. This poem, rude as it is, possesses beauties which 
we would in vain look for in the Jerusalem. It displays a gloomy 
imagination, well adapted to the description of that Egypt, so full 
of recollections and of tombs, which has witnessed the succession 
of the Pharaohs, the Ptolemies, the anchorets of Thebais, and the 
sultans of the barbarians. 

The Pucelle of Chapelain, the Maine SauvS of Saint-Amand, 
and the David of Coras, are scarcely known at present, except 
by the verses of Boileau. Some benefit may, however, be derived 
from the perusal of these works : the last, in particular, is worthy 
of notice. 

The prophet Samuel relates to David the history of the chiefs 
of Israel : 

Ne er shall proud tyrants, said the sainted seer, 
Escape the vengeance of the King of kings; 
His judgments justly poured on our last chiefs 
Stand of this truth a lasting monument. 

Look but at Heli, him whom God s behest 
Appointed Israel s judge and pontiff too! 
His patriot zeal had nobly served the state 
If not extinguish d by his worthless sons. 


Over these youths, on vicious courses bent, 
Jehovah thundered forth his dread decree ; 
And by a sacred messenger denounced 
Destruction gainst them both and all their race. 
Thou knowest, God! the awful sentence past, 
What horrors racked old Heli s harrowed soul ! 
These eyes his anguish witnessed, and this brow 
He oft bedewed with grief-extorted tears. 

These lines (in the original) are remarkable, because they pos 
sess no mean poetic beauties. The apostrophe which terminates 
them is not unworthy of a first-rate poet. 

The episode of Ruth, which is related in the sepulchral grotto, 
the burial-place of the ancient patriarchs, has a character of sim 
plicity : 

We know not which, the husband or the wife, 
Had purer soul, or more of happiness. 

Coras is sometimes felicitous in description. Witness the fol 
lowing : 

Meanwhile the sun, with peerless glory crowned, 
Lessening in form, more burning rays dispensed. 

Saint Amand, whom Boileau extols as a man of some genius, 
is nevertheless inferior to Coras. The Mo ise Sauve is a languid 
composition, the versification tame and prosaic, and the style 
marked by antithesis and bad taste. It contains, however, some 
fine passages, which no doubt won the favor of the critic who 
wrote the Art Poetique. 

It would be useless to waste our time upon the Araucana, with 
its three parts and thirty-five original songs, not forgetting the 
supplementary ones of Don Diego de Santisteban Ojozio It 
contains nothing of the Christian marvellous. It is an historical 
narrative of certain events which occurred in the mountains of 
Chili The most interesting feature in the poem is the figure 
made in it by Ercylla himself, who appears both as a warrior and 
a writer. The Araucana is in eight-line stanzas, like the Orlando 
and the Jerusalem. Italian literature at this period gave the 
law of versification to all European nations. Ercylla among the 
Spaniards, and Spenser among the English, have adopted this 
kind of stanza, and imitated Ariosto even in the arrangement of 
their subjects. 


Ercylla says : 

No las damns, amor, no gentilezas, 
De cabelleros canto enamorados, 
Ni las muestras, rcgalos y ternezas 
De amorosos afectos y cuidados: 
Mas el valor, los hechos, las proezas 
De aquellos Espanoles esforzados, 
Que a la cerviz do Arauco no domada 
Pusieron duro yugo por la espada. 

The subject of the Lusiad is a very rich one for an epic poem 
~i is difficult to conceive how a man possessing the genius of 
^*moens should not have had the art to turn it to better account 
that, he has done. At the same time, it should be recollected 
thai this is the first modern epic, that he lived in a barbarous 
age, that there are many pathetic 1 and even sublime touches in 
the details of his poem, and that after all the bard of the Ta<rus 
was the most unfortunate of mortals. It is a false notion, worthy 
of our hard-hearted age, that the noblest works are produced in 
adversity;- for it is not true that a man can write best under the 
pressure oi misfortune. All those inspired men who devote 
themselves to the service of the muses are sooner overwhelmed 
by affliction tlmn vulgar minds. A mighty genius speedily wears 
out the body which it animates; great souls, like large rivers, are 
liable to lay waste their banks. 

The manner in which Camoens has intermixed fable and Chris 
tianity renders it unnecessary for us to say any thing of the 
marvellous of his performance. 

Klopstock has also committed the fault of taking the marvel 
lous of Christianity for the subject of his poem. His principal 
character is the Divinity, and this alone would be sufficient to 
destroy the tragic effect. There are, however, some beautiful 
passages in the Messiah. The two lovers whom Christ raised 
from the dead furnish a charming episode, which the mythologic 

We nevertheless differ on this subject from other critics. The episode of 
Ines is, in our opinion, chaste and pathetic, but has been upon the whole too 

e devel P ment8 of whi <* it was BUS- 

2 Juvenal has applied a similar observation to the epic poet : 
Nam si Virgilio puer, -et tolerabile deesset 
Hospitium, caderent omnes a crinibus hydri, 
Surda nihil gemeret grave buccina. 


times could never have produced. We recollect no characters 
recalled from the grave among the ancients, except Alceste, Hip- 
polytus, and Heres of Pamphylia. 1 

Richness and grandeur are the particular characteristics of the 
marvellous in the Messiah. Those spheres inhabited by beings 
of a different nature from man the multitude of angels, spirits 
of darkness, unborn souls, and souls that have already finished 
the career of mortality, plunge the mind into the ocean of im 
mensity. The character of Abbadona, the penitent angel, is 
a happy conception. Klopstock has also created a species of 
mystic seraphs, wholly unknown before his time. 

Gessner has left us in his Death of Abel a work replete with 
tenderness and majesty. It is unfortunately spoiled by that sickly 
tincture of the idyl which the Germans generally give to subjects 
taken from Scripture; they are all guilty of violating one of the 
principal laws of the epic, consistency of manners, and transform 
the pastoral monarchs of the East into innocent shepherds of 

As to the author of NoaTi, he was overwhelmed by the richness 
of his subject. To a vigorous imagination, however, the ante 
diluvian world opens a grand and extensive field. There would 
be no necessity for creating all its wonders : by turning to the 
Critias of Plato, 2 the Chronologies of Eusebius, and some treatises 
of Lucian and Plutarch, an abundant harvest might be obtained. 
Scaliger quotes a fragment of Polyhistor, respecting certain tables 
written before the deluge and preserved at Sippary, probably 
the same as the Sippliara of Ptolemy. 3 The muses speak and 
understand all languages : how many things might they decipher 
on these tables ! 

1 In Plato s Republic, book x. Since the appearance of the first edition, we 
have been informed by Mr. Boissonade, a philologist equally learned and polite, 
that several other personages are mentioned by Apollodorus and Telesarchus as 
having been resuscitated in pagan antiquity. 

2 The Crit .as or Atlanticus is an unfinished dialogue of Plato. He describes 
an atlantic island that existed in the infancy of the world. Its climate waa 
genial and its soil fertile. It was inhabited by a happy race of mortals, who 
cultivated arts similar to those of Greece. This island, according to the beau 
tiful tradition of the Egyptian priests, was swallowed up by an inundation 
prior to the deluge ol Deucaleon. 

3 Unless we derive Sippary from the Hebrew word Sepher, which signifies a 





IF a judicious plan, a spirited and well-sustained narrative, 
excellent versification, a pure taste, and a correct and flowing 
style, were the only qualities necessary for the epic, the Ilenriad 
would be a perfect poem : these, however, are not sufficient, for 
it requires besides an heroic and supernatural action. But how 
could Voltaire have made a happy application of the marvellous 
of Christianity he who directed all his efforts to the destruction 
of that marvellous ? Such is, nevertheless, the power of religious 
ideas, that to the very faith which he persecuted the author of 
the Ilenriad is indebted for the most striking passages of his 
epic poem, as well as for the most exquisite scenes in his tra 

A tincture of philosophy and a cold and grave morality be 
come the historic muse ; but this spirit of severity transferred to 
the epic is a sort of contradiction. When, therefore, Voltaire, in 
the invocation of his poem, exclaims 

From thy celestial seat, illustrious Truth, 

he has fallen, in our opinion, into a gross mistake. Epic poetry 
Is built on fable, and by fiction lives. 

Tasso, who also treated a Christian subject, followed Plato and 

Lucretius 1 in his charming lines beginning 

Sai che la torre in mondo, ove piu versi 
Di sue dolcezze il lusinghier Parnasso, <fcc. 

library. Josephus (de Antiq. Jud., lib. i. c. 2) mentions two columns, one of 
nek, the other of stone, on which Seth s children had engraved the human 
fences that they might not be swept away by the deluge, which Adam had 

predicted. These two columns are said to have existed long after the time of 

1 "A 3 the physician who, to save his patient, mixes pleasant draughts with 
ie medicines proper for curing him, and, on the contrary, introduces bitter 
drugs into such aliments as are pernicious," Ac. Plato, de Lea lib i A 
p. ueris absinthia tetra medentes, &c. Lucret., lib. v. 


"There can be no good poetry where there is no fiction/ ob 
serves Plutarch. 1 

Was semi-barbarous France no longer sufficiently covered with 
forests to present some castle of the days of yore, with its port 
cullis, dungeons, and towers overgrown with ivy, and teeming 
with marvellous adventures? Was there no Gothic temple to be 
found in a solitary valley, embosomed in woods ? Had not the 
mountains of Navarre some druid, a child of the rock, who, be 
neath the sacred oak, on the bank of the torrent, amid the howl 
ing of the tempest, celebrated the deeds of the Gauls and wept, 
over the tombs of heroes? I am sure there must have been still 
left some knight of the reign of Francis I., who within his an 
tique mansion regretted the tournaments of former days and the 
good old times when France went to war with recreants and in 
fidels. How many circumstances might have been gleaned from 
that Batavian revolution, the neighbor, and, as it were, the sister, 
of the League! The Dutch were just then forming settlements 
in the Indies, and Philip was receiving the first treasures from 
Peru. Coligny had even sent a colony to Carolina; the Chevalier 
de Gourgues would have furnished the author of the Henriad 
with a splendid and pathetic episode. An epic poem should em 
brace the universe. 

Europe, by the happiest of contrasts, exhibited a pastoral na 
tion in Switzerland, a commercial nation in England, and a nation 
devoted to the arts in Italy. France also presented a most 
favorable epoch for epic poetry; an epoch which ought always to 
be chosen, as it was by Voltaire, at the conclusion of one age 
and at the commencement of another ; an epoch bordering upon 
old manners on the hand and new manners on the other. 
Barbarism was expiring, and the brilliant age of the great Louis 
began to dawn. Malherbe was come, and that hero, both a bard 
and a knight, could lead the French to battle, at the same time 
chanting hymns to victory. 

It is admitted that the characters in the Henriad are but por- 

If we were to be told that Tasso had also invoked Truth, we should reply 
that he has not done it like Voltaire. Tasso s Truth is a muse, an angel, a 
vague something without a name, a Christian being, and not Truth directly 
personified, like that of the Henriad. 


traits, and this species of painting, of which Rome in her decline 
exhibited the first models, has been perhaps too highly ex 

The portrait belongs not to the epic. Its beauties are destitute 
of action and motion. 

Some have likewise questioned whether consistency of manners 
be sufficiently preserved in the Ilcnriad. The heroes of that 
poem spout very fine verses, which serve as vehicles for the phi 
losophical principles of Voltaire; but are they good representa 
tives of warriors such as they actually were in the sixteenth 
century? If the speeches of the Leaguers breathe the spirit of 
the age, are we not authorized to think that the actions of the 
characters should display this spirit still more than their words ? 
At least the bard who has celebrated Achilles has not thrown 
the Iliad into dialogue. 

As to the marvellous, it amounts to little more than nothing 
in the Henriad. If we were not acquainted with the wretched 
system which froze the poetic genius of Voltaire, we should be 
at a loss to conceive how he could have preferred allegorical 
divinities to the marvellous of Christianity. He has imparted 
DO warmth to his inventions except in those passages where he 
has ceased to be a philosopher that he may become a Christian. 
No sooner does he touch upon religion, the source of all poetry, 
than the current freely flows. The oath of the sixteen in the 
cavern, the appearance of the ghost of Guise, which comes to 
furnish Clement with a dagger, are circumstances highly epic, 
and borrowed even from the superstitious of an ignorant and 
unhappy age. 

Was not the poet guilty of another error when he introduced 
his philosophy into heaven ? His Supreme Being is, doubtless, 
a very, equitable God, who judges with strict impartiality both 
the Bonze and the Dervise, the Jew and the Mohammedan; but 
was this to be expected of the muse? Should we not rather 
require of her poetry, a Christian heaven, sacred songs, Jehovah, 
in a word, the mens divinior religion ? 

Voltaire has, therefore, broken with his own hand the most 
harmonious string of his lyre, in refusing to celebrate that sacred 
host, that glorious army of martyrs and angels, with which his 
talents would have produced an admirable effect. He might 


have found among our saints powers as great as those of the 
goddesses of old and names as sweet as those of the graces. 
What a pity that he did not choose to make mention of those 
shepherdesses transformed, for their virtues, into beneficent 
divinities j of those Genevieves who, in the mansions of bliss, 
protect the empire of Clovis and Charlemagne ! In our opin 
ion, it must be a sight not wholly destitute of charms for the 
muses, to behold the most intelligent and the most valiant 
of nations consecrated by religion to the daughter of simpli 
city and peace. Whence did the Gauls derive their trouba 
dours, their frankness of mind, and their love of the graces, 
except from the pastoral strains, the innocence, and the beauty, of 
their patroness ? 

Judicious critics have observed that there are two individuals 
iii Voltaire the one abounding in taste, science, and reason, and 
the other marked by the contrary defects. It may be questioned 
whether the author of the Henriad possessed a genius equal 
to Racine, but he had perhaps more varied talents and a more 
flexible imagination. Unfortunately, what we are able to do is 
not always the measure of what we actually accomplish. If Vol 
taire had been animated by religion, like the author of Athalie, 
and like him had profoundly studied the works of the fathers 
and antiquity, if he had not grasped at every species of compo 
sition and every kind of subject, his poetry would have been 
more nervous, and his prose would have acquired a decorum and 
gravity in which it is but too often deficient. This great man 
had the misfortune to pass his life amid a circle of scholars of 
moderate abilities, who, always ready to applaud, were incapable 
of apprising him of his errors. We love to represent him to 
ourselves in the company of his equals the Pascals, the Arnauds, 
the Nicoles, the Boileaus, the Racines. By associating with such 
men he would have been obliged to alter his tone. The jests 
and the blasphemies of Forney would have excited indignation 
at Port Royal. The inmates of that institution detested works 
composed in a hurry, and would not, for all the world, have 
deceived the public by submitting to it a poem which had not 
cost them the labor of twelve long years at least; and a circum 
stance truly astonishing is, that, amid so many occupations, these 
excellent men still found means to fulfil every, even the least 


important, of their religious duties, and to carry with them into 
society the urbanity of their illustrious age. 1 

Such a school Voltaire wanted. He is greatly to be pitied for 
having possessed that twofold genius which extorts at the same 
time our admiration and our hatred. He erects and overthrows ; 
he gives the most contradictory examples and precepts; he extols 
the age of Lo iis XIV. to the skies, and afterward attacks in 
detail the reputation of its great men. He alternately praises 
and slanders antiquity; he pursues through seventy volumes 
what he denominates the wretch, and yet the finest passages in 
his works were inspired by religion. While his imagination 
enchants you, he throws around him the glare of a fallacious 
reason, which destroys the marvellous, contracts the soul, and 
shortens the sight. Except in some of his master-pieces, he con 
siders only the ludicrous side of things and times, and exhibits 
man to man in a light hideously diverting. He charms and 
fatigues by his versatility; he both delights and disgusts you; 
you are at a loss to decide what form is peculiarly his own ; you 
would think him insane, were it not for his good sense, and a 
misanthropist, did not his life abound with acts of beneficence. 
You can perceive, amid all his impieties, that he hated sophists. 9 
To love the fine arts, letters, and magnificence, was so natural to 
him that it is nothing uncommon to find him in a kind of ad 
miration of the court of Rome. His vanity caused him, through 
out his life, to act a part for which he was not formed, and which 
was very far beneath him. He bore, in fact, no resemblance to 
Diderot, Rayual, or D Alembert. The elegance of his manners, 
the urbanity of his demeanor, his love of society, and, above all, 
his humanity, would probably have rendered him one of the most 
inveterate enemies of the revolutionary system. He is most 
decidedly in favor of social order, while he unconsciously saps its 
foundations by attacking the institutions of religion. The most 
equitable judgment that can be passed upon him is that his 

1 It is much to be regretted that the excellence of these writers and their 
literary labors were so deeply sullied by their attachment to the cause of 
Jansenism. Though Voltaire was not the cotemporary of Pascal, he knew how 
to combat Christianity with the same weapons of ridicule that the latter had 
employed against the Society of Jesus, the great bulwark of Catholicism in 
that age. T. 2 See note N. 


infidelity prevented his attaining the height for which nature 
qualified him, rnd that his works (with the exception of his 
fugitive poems) have fallen very short of his actual abilities an 
example which ought to be an everlasting warning to all those 
who pursue the career of letters. 1 Voltaire was betrayed into all 
these errors, all these contradictions of style and sentiment, only 
because he wanted the great counterpoise of religion; and he is 
an instance to prove that grave morals and piety of thought are 
more necessary even than a brilliant genius for the successful 
cultivation of the muse. 

"Voltaire s pen was fertile and very elegant; his observations are very 
acute, yet he often betrays great ignorance when he treats on subjects of an 
cient learning. Madame de Talmond once said to him, I think, sir, that a 
philosopher should never write but to endeavor to render mankind less wicked 
and unhappy than they are. Now you do quite the contrary; you are always 
writing against that religion which alone is able to restrain wickedness and to 
afford us consolation under misfortunes. Voltaire was much struck, and ex 
cused himself by saying that he only wrote for those who were of the same 
opinion with himself. Tronchin assured his friends that Voltaire died in great 
agonies of mind. I die forsaken by Gods and men! exclaimed he, in those 
awful moments when truth will force its way. I wish, added Tronchin, that 
those who had been perverted by his writings had been present at his death. 
It was a sight too horrid to support. " Seward s Anecdote*, vol. v. p. 274. 






FROM the general survey of epic poems we shall pass to the 
details of poetic compositions. Let us first consider the natural 
characters, such as the husband and wife, the father, the mother, 
&c., before we enter upon the examination of the social charac 
ters, such as the priest and the soldier ; and let us set out from a 
principle that cannot be contested. 

Christianity is, if we may so express it, a double religion. Its 
teaching has reference to the nature of intellectual being, and 
also to our own nature : it makes the mysteries of the Divinity 
and the mysteries of the human heart go hand-in-hand ; and, by 
removing the veil that conceals the true God, it also exhibits man 
just as he is. 

Such a religion must necessarily be more favorable to the 
delineation of characters than another which dives not into the 
secrets of the passions. The fairer half of poetry, the dramatic, 
received no assistance from polytheism, for morals were sepa 
rated from mythology. 1 A god ascended his chariot, a priest 
offered a sacrifice ; but neither the god nor the priest taught what 
man is, whence he comes, whither he goes, what are his propen 
sities, his vices, his virtues, his ends in this life and his destinies 
in another. 

In Christianity, on the contrary, religion and morals are one 
and the same thing. The Scripture informs us of our origin ; it 

1 See note 0. 


makes us acquainted with our twofold nature ; the Christian 
mysteries all relate to us ; we are everywhere seen ; for us the 
Son of God is sacrificed. From Moses to Jesus Christ, from the 
apostles to the last fathers of the Church, every thing presents 
the picture of the internal man, every thing tends to dispel the 
obscurity in which he is enveloped; and one of the distinguishing 
characteristics of Christianity is that it invariably introduces 
man in conjunction with God, whereas the false religions have 
separated the Creator from the creature. 

Here, then, is an incalculable advantage which poets ought to 
have observed in the Christian religion, instead of obstinately 
continuing to decry it. For if it is equal to polytheism in the 
marvellous, or in the relations of supernatural things, as we shall 
in the sequel attempt to prove, it has moreover the drama and 
moral part which polytheism did not embrace. 

In support of this great truth, we shall adduce examples ; we 
shall ^nstitute comparisons, which, while they refine our taste, 
may serve to attach us to the religion of our forefathers by the 
charms of the most divine among the arts. 

We shall commence the study of the natural characters by 
that of husband and wife, and contrast the conjugal love of Adam 
and Eve with the conjugal love of Ulysses and Penelope. It will 
not be said of us that we have purposely selected inferior sub 
jects in antiquity, in order to heighten the effect of the Christian 



Ulysses and fen el ope. 

THE suitors having been slain by Ulysses, Euryclea goes to 
awaken Penelope, who long refuses to believe the wonderful story 
related by her nurse. She rises, however, and, "descending the 
steps, passed the stone threshold, and sat down opposite to 

Ulysses, who was himself seated at the foot of a lofty column, 


and, his eyes fixed on the ground, was waiting to hear what his 
wife would say. But she kept silence, for great astonishment 
had seized her heart." 1 

Telemachus accuses his mother of coldness. Ulysses smiles, 
and makes an excuse for Penelope. The princess still doubts; 
and, to try her husband, commands the bed of Ulysses to be pre 
pared out of the nuptial chamber; upon which the hero imme 
diately exclaims, "Who, then, has removed my couch? Is it no 
longer spread on the trunk of the olive, around which I built 
with this hand a bower in my court ?" 

" He said ; and suddenly the heart and knees of Penelope at 
once failed her; she recognised Ulysses by this indubitable sign. 
Soon running to him, bathed in tears, she threw her arms about 
her husband s neck; she kissed his sacred head, and cried, 
Be not angry, thou who wast always the wisest of men ! Let 
me not move thy wrath, if I forbore to throw myself into thine 
amis. My heart trembled for fear a stranger should betray my 

faith by deceitful words But now I have a manifest 

proof that it is thyself, by that which thou hast said concerning 
our couch, which no other man has ever seen, which is known to 
ourselves and to Actoris alone, (the slave whom my father gave 
to me when I came to Ithaca, and who is the only attendant on 
our nuptial chamber.) Thou restorest confidence to this heart 
rendered distrustful by grief/ 

" She said : and Ulysses, unable to restrain his tears, wept 
over this chaste and prudent spouse, whom he pressed to his 
heart. As mariners gaze at the wished-for land, when Neptune 
has shattered their rapid vessel, the sport of the winds and the 
mountain billows, when a small number of the crew, floating on 
the bosom of the ocean, swim to the shore, and, covered with 
briny foam, gain the strand, overjoyed at their narrow escape 
from destruction, so Penelope fixed her delighted eyes on Ulysses. 
She could not take her arms from the hero s neck, and rosy- 
lingered Aurora would have beheld the sacred tears of the royal 

pair had not Minerva held back the sun in the wavy main 

Meanwhile, Eurynome, with a torch in her hand, goes before 
Ulysses and Penelope, and conducts them to the nuptial chamber. 

1 Odyss., b. xxiii. v. 88. 


The king and his consort, after yielding to the bland 
ishments of love, enchanted each other by the mutual recital of 

their sorrows Scarcely had Ulysses finished the last 

words of his history, when beneficent slumber, stealing upon his 
weary limbs, produced a sweet forgetfulness of all his cares/ 

This meeting of Ulysses and Penelope is, perhaps, one of the 
most exquisite specimens of ancient genius. Penelope sitting in 
silence, Ulysses motionless at the foot of a column, and the 
scene illumined by the blaze of the hospitable hearth what 
grandeur and what simplicity of design ! And by what means 
do they recognise each other ? By the mention of a circumstance 
relative to the nuptial couch. Another object of admiration is, 
that the couch itself was formed by the hand of a king upon the 
trunk of an olive-tree, the tree of peace and of wisdom, worthy 
of supporting that bed which never received any other man than 
Ulysses. The transports which succeed the discovery; that deeply 
affecting comparison of a widow finding her long-lost husband 
to a mariner who descries land at the very moment of ship 
wreck; the conjugal pair conducted by torch-light to their 
apartment; the pleasures of love followed by the joys of grief 
or the mutual communication of past sorrows ; the twofold de 
light of present happiness and recollected misfortunes ; that sleep 
which gradually steals on, and at length closes the eyes and lips 
of Ulysses, while relating his adventures to the attentive Pene 
lope : all these traits display the hand of a master, and cannot be 
too highly admired. 

It would be a truly interesting study to consider what course 
a modern writer would have pursued in the execution of some 
particular part of the works of an ancient author. In the fore 
going picture, for instance, there is every reason to suspect that 
the scene, instead of passing in action between Ulysses and Pe 
nelope, would have been described in the narrative form by the 
poet. This narration would have been interspersed with philoso 
phical reflections, brilliant verses, and pretty turns of expression. 
Instead of adopting this showy and laborious manner, Homer 
exhibits to you a pair who meet again after an absence of twenty 
years, and who, without uttering any vehement exclamations, 
seem as if they had parted only the preceding day. Wherein, 
then, consists the beauty of its delineation ? In its truth. 


The moderns are, in general, more scientific, more delicate, 
more acute, and frequently even more interesting, in their com 
positions than the ancients. The latter, on the other hand, are 
more simple, more august, more tragic, more fertile, and, above 
all, more attentive to truth, than the moderns. They have a better 
taste, a nobler imagination : they work at their composition as a 
whole, without affectation of ornament. A shepherd giving way 
to his lamentations, an old man relating a story, a hero fighting, 
are sufficient with them for a whole poem; and we are puzzled to 
tell how it happens that this poem, which contains nothing, is 
nevertheless better filled than our novels that are most crowded 
with incidents and characters. The art of writing seems to have 
followed the art of painting : the pallet of the modern poet is 
covered with an infinite variety of hues and tints ; the poet of 
antiquity composes all his pieces with the three colors of Poly- 
gnotus. The Latins, placed between the Greeks and us, partake 
of both manners ; they resemble Greece in the simplicity of the 
ground, and us in the art of detail. It is probably this happy 
combination of both styles that renders the productions of Virgil 
so enchanting. 

Let us now turn to the picture of the loves of our first pa 
rents. The Adam and Eve of the blind bard of Albion will 
form an excellent match for the Ulysses and Penelope of the 
blind bard of Smyrna. 



Adam and Eve. 

SATAN, having penetrated into the terrestrial paradise, surveys 
the animals of the new creation. Among these, 

Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall, 

Godlike erect, with native honor clad, 

In naked majesty seemed lords of all, 

And worthy seemed : for in their looks divine 

The image of their glorious Maker shone. 


Truth, wisdom, sanetitude severe and pure, 
(Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,) 
Whence true authority in men : though both 
Not equal as their sex not equal seemed ; 
For contemplation he and valor formed, 
For softness she, and sweet attractive grace; 
He for God only, she for God in him. 
His fair large front and eye sublime declared 
* Absolute rule, and hyacinthine locks 

Round fronr. his parted forelock rnanly hung 
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad*. 
She as a veil down to the slender waist 
Her unadorned golden tresses wore 
Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved 
As the vine curls her tendrils, which implied 
Subjection, but required with gentle sway, 
And by her yielded, by him best received, 
Yielded with coy submission, modest pride, 
And sweet reluctant amorous delay. 
Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed : 
Then was not guilty shame ; dishonest shame 
Of Nature s works, honor dishonorable, 
Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind 
With shows instead, mere shows of seeming pure, 
And banished from man s life his happiest life, 
Simplicity and spotless innocence ! 
So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight 
Of God or angels, for they thought no ill : 
So hand-in-hand they passed, the loveliest pair 
That ever since in love s embraces met; 
Adam the goodliest man of men since born 
His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve. 1 

Our first parents retire beneath a tuft of shade ~by a fresh 
fountain s side. Here they take their evening repast amid the 
animals of the creation, which frisk around their human sove 
reigns. Satan, disguised under the form of one of these crea 
tures, contemplates the happy pair, and his enmity is almost 
overcome by their beauty, their innocence, and the thoughts of 
the calamities which through his means will soon succeed such 
exquisite felicity a truly admirable trait! Meanwhile Adam 
and Eve enter into sweet converse beside the fountain, and Eve 
thus addresses her husband : 

That day I oft remember, when from sleep 
I first awaked, and found myself reposed 

1 Paradise Lost, b. iv. 


Under a shade of flowers, much wondering where 

And what I was, whence thither brought and how. 

Not distant far from thence a munnuring sound 

Of waters issued from a cave, and spread 

Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved 

Pure as the expanse of Heaven : I thither went 

With unexperienced thought, and laid me down 

On the green bank, to look into the clear 

Smooth lake, that to me seemed another sky. 

As I went down to look, just opposite 

A shape within the watery gleam appeared, 

Bending to look on me : I started back, 

It started back ; but, pleased, I soon returned ; 

Pleased, it returned as soon, with answering looka 

Of sympathy and love. There had I fixed 

Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire, 

Had nut a voice thus warned me: What thou seest. 

What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself. 

With thee it comes and goes; but follow me, 

And I will bring thee where no shadow stays 

Thy coming, and thy soft embraces; he 

Whose image thou art, him thou shalt enjoy, 

Inseparably thine; to him shalt bear 

Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called 

Mother of human race. What could I do 

But follow straight, invisibly thus led? 

Till I espied thee, fair, indeed, and tall, 

Under a platan; yet, methought, less fair, 

Less winning soft, less amiably mild, 

Than that smooth watery image. Back I turned; 

Thou, following, criedst aloud, "Return, fair Eve; 

Whom flyest thou? whom thou flyest, of him thou artj 

His flesh, his bone. To give thee being, I lent 

Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart, 

Substantial life, to have thee by my side 

Henceforth an individual solace dear. 

Part of my soul, I seek thee, and thee claim, 

My other half." With that, thy gentle hand 

Seized mine; I yielded, and from that time see 

How beauty is excelled by minly grace 

And wisdom, which alone is truly fair. 

So spake our general mother, and with eyes 
Of conjugal attraction, unreproved, 
And meek surrender, half embracing, leaned 
On our first father. Half her swelling breast 
Naked met his, under the flowing gold 
Of her loose tresses hid. He, in delight 
Both of her beauty and submissive charms, 
Smiled with superior love, a? Jupiter 


On Juno smiles when he impregns the clouds 
That shed May flowers, and pressed her matron lip 
With kisses pure ........ 

..... The sun had fallen 

Benenth the Azores. Whether the prime orb, 
Incredible how swift, had thither rolled 
Diurnal, or this less volubil earth, 
By shorter flight to the east, had left him there, 
Arraying with reflected purple and gold 
The clouds that on his western throne attend. 
Now came still evening on, and twilight gray 
Had in her sober livery all things clad. 
Silence accompanied: for beast and bird, 
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests, 
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale; 
She all night long her amorous descant sung. 
Silence was pleased. Now glowed the firmament 
With living sapphires. Hesperus, that led 
The starry host, rode brightest till the moon, 
Rising in clouded majesty, at length, 
Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light, 
And o er the dark her silver mantle threw. 

Adam and Eve, "having offered up their prayers to the Almightj 
retire to the nuptial bower. Proceeding to its inmost covert. 
they lie down upon a bed of flowers. The poet, remaining as it 
were at the entrance, entones a canticle to Hymen, in the presence 
of the starry host. Without preliminary, and as by an impulse 
of inspiration, he bursts forth into this magnificent epithalamium, 
after the manner of the ancients : 

Hail wedded love, mysterious law, true source 
Of human offspring - 

Thus, after Hector s death, does the Grecian army all at once 

E*ropa 6Tov. 
"We have gained great glory ! We have slain the divine Hector 

In like manner, the Salii, celebrating the festival of Hercules, in 
Virgil, abruptly shout : 

Tu nubigenas, invicte, bimembres, <fcc. 
"Thy arms, unconquered hero, could subdue 
The cloud-born Centaurs and the monster crew!" 

This hymn to conjugal fidelity puts the finishing stroke to 


nelope and Ulysses remind us of past troubles; Adam and Eve 
point to impending woes. Every drama is fundamentally defect 
ive that represents joys without any mixture of sorrows past or 
sorrows in reserve. We are tired by unalloyed happiness and 
shocked by absolute misery. The former is destitute of recollec 
tions and of tears, the latter of hope and of smiles. If you 
ascend from pain to pleasure, (as in the scene of Homer,) you 
will be more pathetic, more melancholy, because the soul then 
looks back on the past and reposes in the present. If, on the 
contrary, you descend from prosperity to tears, as in Milton s im 
mortal poem, you will be more sad, more sensitive, because the 
heart scarcely pauses on the present, and already anticipates the 
calamities with which it is threatened. We ought, therefore, in 
our pictures, invariably to combine felicity and adversity, and to 
make the pains rather more than counterbalance the pleasures, aa 
in nature. Two liquids, the one sweet and the other bitter, are 
mingled together in the cup of life; but, in addition to the bit 
terness of the latter, there is the sediment which both liquids 
alike deposit at the bottom of the chalice. 




FROM the conjugal character let us proceed to that of the 
father. Let us consider paternity in the most sublime and affect 
ing situations of life old age and misfortune. Priam, that 
monarch whose favor was sought by the mighty of the earth, dum 
fortuna fuit, but now fallen from the height of glory Priam, 
his venerable locks sullied with ashes, his cheeks bedewed with 
tears, his penetrated alone at midnight into the camp of the 
Greeks. Low bowed at the knees of the merciless Achilles, kiss 
ing those terrible, those devouring 1 hands yet reeking with the 
blood of his sons, he humbly begs the body of his Hector: 

Trorpof OTIO, 

t/j, men -devouring. 2 Iliad, b. xxiv. 

PRIAM. 243 

< Remember thy father, godlike Achilles ! He is bowed down 
with years, and, like me, approaches the termination of his career. 
Perhaps at this very moment he is overwhelmed by powerful 
neighbors, and has no one at hand to defend him ; and yet, when 
he is informed that thou livest, he rejoices in his heart. Each 
day he hopes to see his son return from Troy. But I, the most 
unfortunate of fathers, of all the sons that I numbered in spacious 
Ilion scarcely one is left me. I had fifty when the Greeks landed 
on these shores. Nineteen were the offspring of the same mother. 
Different captives bore me the others. Most of them have fallen 
beneath the strokes of cruel Mars. Yet one there was who singly 
defended his brothers and the walls of Troy. Him thou hast 
slain, fighting for his country Hector! For his sake I have 
repaired to the Grecian fieet. 1 am come to redeem his body, 
and have brought thee an immense ransom. Respect the gods, 
Achilles ! Have compassion upon me. Remember thy father. 
Oh ! how wretched am I ! No mortal was ever reduced to such 
excess of misery. I kiss the hands that have killed my sons!" 

What beauties in this address ! what a scene unfolded to the 
view of the reader! Night the tent of Achilles that hero, 
seated beside the faithful Automedon, deploring the loss of Patro- 
c l us Priam abruptly appearing amid the obscurity and throwing 
himself at the feet of Pelides. There in the dark stand the cars 
and the mules which have brought the presents of the venerable 
sovereign of Troy, and at some distance the mangled remains 
of the generous Hector are left unhonored on the shore of the 

Examine Priam s address: you will find that the second word 
pronounced by the unfortunate monarch, is xarpos, father ; the 
second thought in the same verse is a panegyric on the haughty 
chieftain, foots erreueA A^Uso, godlike Achilles. Priam must 
do great violence to his feelings to speak in such terms to the 
murderer of Hector. All these traits discover a profound know 
ledge of the human heart. 

The most affecting image that the unfortunate monarch could 
present to the violent son of Peleus, after reminding him of his 
father, was, without doubt, the age of that father. So far, Priam 
has not ventured to utter a word concerning himself, but suddenly 
an opportunity occurs, and he seizes it with the most moving 


simplicity. Like me, he says, he approaches the termination of hf* 
career. Thus Priam still avoids mentioning himself except in 
conjunction with Peleus, and he forces Achilles to view only his 
own father in the person of a suppliant and unfortunate king. 
The image of the forlorn situation of the aged monarch, perhap* 
overwhelmed by powerful neighbors during the absence of his son, 
the picture of his affliction suddenly forgotten when he learns 
that his son is full of life, finally, the transient sorrows of Peleus 
contrasted with the irreparable misfortunes of Priam, all this 
displays an admirable mixture of grief, address, propriety, and 

With what respectable and sacred skill does the venerable sove 
reign of Ilium afterward lead the haughty Achilles to listen, 
even with composure, to the praise of Hector himself ! At first 
he takes care not to name the Trojan hero. Yet one there was, 
says he, without mentioning the name of Hector to his conqueror, 
till he has told him that by his hand he fell while fighting for 
his country! 

Toy ffv Trpwqv KTCivas, dnvv6ptvov Ttcpi Trurprjj : 

And then he adds the single word " Exropa, Hector. It is very 
remarkable that this insulated name is not comprehended in the 
poetical period; it is introduced at the commencement of a verse, 
where it breaks the measure, surprises the eye and ear, forms a 
complete sense, antl is wholly unconnected with what follows: 

Ton ai) TTpwrjj ncmvaj, dpvvdpcvov irtpl Tarp^j, 

Thus the son of Peleus is reminded of his vengeance before he 
recollects his enemy. Had Priam named Hector first, Achilles 
would at once have thought of Patroclus; but tis no longer 
Hector who is presented to his view, tis a mangled body, a dis 
figured corpse, consigned to the dogs and vultures; and even this 
is not shown to him without an excuse d/jtuvo/isvov xsp} rrfr^Tj? 
he fought for his country. The pride of Achilles is gratified 
with having triumphed over one who had alone defended his bro 
thers and the walls of Troy. 

Lastly, Priam, after speaking of men to the son of Thetis, re 
minds him of the just gods, and once more leads him back to the 
recollection of Peleus. The trait which concludes the address 
of the Trojan monarch is most sublimely pathetic. 





WE shall find in the tragedy of Zara a father to contrast with 
Priam. The two scenes, indeed, cannot be compared, either in 
point of arrangement, strength of design, or beauty of poetry; 
but the triumph of Christianity will on that account be only the 
more complete, since that religion is enabled by the charm of its 
recollections singly to sustain a competition with the mighty 
genius of Homer. Voltaire himself does not deny that he sought 
success in the power of this charm ; since he thus writes in allu 
sion to Zara: "I shall endeavor to introduce into this piece 
whatever appears most pathetic and most interesting in the Chris 
tian religion." 1 This venerable Crusader, covered with glory, 
and bowed down with misfortune, steadfastly adhering to his reli 
gion in the solitude of a dungeon, this Lusignan imploring a 
young enamored female to hearken to the voice of the God of her 
fathers, presents a striking scene, the force of which lies entirely 
in its evangelical morality and Christian sentiments. 

For thee, God, and in thy glorious cause, 
These threescore years old Lusignan hath fought, 
But fought in vain; hath seen thy temple fall, 
Thy goodness spurned, thy sacred right profaned. 
For twenty summers in a dungeon hid, 
With tears have I implored thee to protect 
My children ; thou hast given them to my wishes 
And in my d lughter now I find thy foe. 
I am myself, alas ! the fatal cause 
Of thy lost faith ; had I not been a slave ... 
But, my daughter! thou dear, lovely object 
Of all my cares, think on the pure blood 
Within thy veins, the blood of twenty kings, 
All Christians like myself, the blood of heroes, 
Defenders of the faith, the blood of martyrs. 

(Euvr. CompUt. de Volt., tome 78 ; Corresp. gen., Lett. 57, p. 1 19 ; edit. 1785. 


Thou art a stranger to thy mother s fate ; 

Thou dost not know that, in the very moment 

She gave thee birth, I saw her massacred 

By those barbarians whose detested faith 

Thou hast embraced : thy brothers, the dear martyrs, 

Stretch forth their hands from heaven, and wish to embrace 

A sister: remember them ! That God 

Whom thou betrayest, for us and for mankind 

Even in this place expired; where I so oft 

Have fought for him, where now his blood by me 

Calls loudly on thee. See yon temple, see 

These walls: behold the sacred mountain where 

Thy Saviour bled; the tomb whence he arose 

Victorious; in each path, where er thou tread st 

Shalt thou behold the footsteps of thy God. 

Wilt thou renounce thy honor and thy father? 

Wilt thou renounce thy Maker? 1 

A religion which furnishes its enemy with such beauties de 
serves at least to be heard before it be condemned. Antiquity 
affords nothing so interesting, because it had not such a religion. 
Polytheism, laying no restraint upon the passions, could not oc 
casion those inward conflicts of the soul which are so common 
under the gospel dispensation, and produce the most affecting 
situations. The pathetic character of Christianity also strongly 
tends to heighten the charms of Zara. Were Lusignan to remind 
his daughter of nothing but the happy deities, the banquets and 
the joys of Olympus, all this would have but a very slight interest 
for her, and would only form a harsh contradiction to the tender 
emotions which the poet aims to excite. But the misfortunes of 
Lusignan, his blood, his sufferings, are blended with the misfor 
tunes, the blood, and the sufferings, of Jesus Christ. Could 
Zara deny her Redeemer on the very spot where he gave himself 
a sacrifice for her? The cause of a father and the cause of God 
are mingled together; the venerable age of Lusignan and the 
blood of the martyrs exert the authority of religion; the moun 
tain and the tomb both cry out. The place, the man, the divinity, 
every thing is tragic in this picture. 

1 Voltaire s Dramatic Works, translated by Franklin, vol. v. p. 36-3 *. 





" A VOICE was heard on high," says Jeremias, 1 "cf lamenta 
tion, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her 
children, and refusing to be comforted because they are not." 
How beautiful is this expression because they are not! It- 
breathes all the tenderness of the mother. 3 Most assuredly, the 
religion which has consecrated such an expression must be 
thoroughly acquainted with the maternal heart. 

Our veneration for the Virgin Mary, and the love of Jesus 
Christ for children, likewise prove that the spirit of Christianity 
has a tender sympathy with the character of mother. We here 
propose to open a new path for criticism, by seeking in the senti 
ments of a pagan mother, delineated by a modern author, those 
Christian traits which that author may have introduced into his 
picture without being aware of it himself. In order to demon 
strate the influence of a moral or religious institution on the heart 
of man, it is not necessary that the instance adduced for this pur 
pose should be selected from the more visible effects of that 
institution. Tis sufficient if it breathe its spirit; and thus it is 
that the Elysium of Telemachus is evidently a Christian paradise. 

Now the most affecting sentiments of Racine s Andromache 
emanate for the most part from a Christian poet. The Andro 
mache of the Iliad is the wife rather than the mother; that of 
Euripides is of a disposition at once servile and ambitious, which 
destroys the maternal character; that of Virgil is tender and 
melancholy, but has less of the mother than of the wife : the 
widow of Hector says not, Astyanax ubi est, but Hector ubi est. 

1 Jer. xxxi. 15. 

- We know not why Sacy, in his French translation, has rendered Rama, by 
Rama, a town. The Hebrew Rama (whence comes the pa<5a/^o? of the Greeks) 
is applied to a branch of a tree, an arm of the sea, a chain of mountains. The 
latter is the signification of the Hebrew in this place, and the Vulgate, as seen 
in the context, has vox in excelso. 


Racine s Andromache has greater sensibility, is more interest- 
ing in every respect, than the ancient Andromache. That verse 
which is so simple, yet so full of love, 

Je ne 1 ai point encore embrasse d aujourd hui, 
I ve not yet kissed my child to-day, 

is the language of a Christian mother, and is not in accordance 
with the Grecian taste, still less that of the Romans. 

Homer s Andromache deplores the future misery of Astyanax, 
but scarcely bestows a thought on his present condition. The 
mother, under the Christian dispensation, more tender without 
being less provident, sometimes forgets her sorrows while em 
bracing her son. The ancients bestowed upon infancy no great 
portion of their attention ; they seem to have considered swad 
dling-clothes and a cradle as too simple for their notice. The 
God of the gospel alone was not ashamed to speak of the little 
children, 1 and to hold them up as an example to men. "And, 
taking a child, he set him in the midst of them. Whom when 
he had embraced, he saith unto them : Whosoever shall receive 
one such child in my name, receiveth me." 3 

When Hector s widow says to Cephisus, in Racine, 

Qu il ait de ses aieux un souvenir modeste ; 
II est du sang d Hector, mais il en est le reste. 
Teach him with modesty to bear in mind 
His great forefathers : he s of Hector s blood, 
But all of Hector s self that now survives ; 

who does not perceive the Christian ? Tis the deposuit potentes 
de sede " He hath put down the mighty from their seat." An 
tiquity never speaks in this manner, for it imitates no sentiments 
but those of nature ; but the sentiments expressed in these verses 
of Racine are not derived purely from nature ; so far from this, 
they contradict the voice of the heart. Hector, in the Iliad, 
exhorts not his son to retain a modest remembrance of his fore 
fathers. Holding up Astyanax toward heaven, he exclaims : 

Zcv a\\oi re Qeol, Sore fa xdi r6v6e ycvcaOai, 
n<u<5 Cfidv, w{ KOI eyo> irep, aptirpe^ea Tpiocaaiv, 
SL5e fiirjv, T ayaSov, KOI lAtou itpi dvaoociv. 
Kat TTOTE rij eiTnjffi, llarpog 6 oyt TroAAw 

Matt, xviii. 3. 2 Mark ix. 36-37. 


thou ! whose glory fills th ethereal throne, 
And all ye deathless powers, protect my son ! 
Grant him, like me, to purchase just renown, 
To guard the Trojans, to defend the crown, 
Against his country s foes the war to wage, 
And rise the Hector of the future age ! 
So, when triumphant from successful toils 
Of heroes slain he bears the reeking spoils, 
Whole hosts may hail him with deserved acclaim, 
I And say, This chief transcends his father s fame. 1 

J&ue-as says to ^iscanius : 

Et te aiiimo repetentem exempla tuorum, 
Et pater ^Eneas, et avunculus excitet Hector. 

Thou, when thy riper years shall send thee forth 
To toils of war, be mindful of my worth : 
Assert thy birthright, and in arms be known 
For Hector s nephew, and ^Eneas son. 2 

The modern Andromache, indeed, expresses herself nearly in 
the same manner respecting the ancestors of Astyanax. But 
after this line, 

Tell by what feats they dignified their names, 

she adds, 

Tell what they did, rather than what they were. 

Now, such precepts are in direct opposition to the suggestions 
of pride. We here behold amended nature improved evangelical 
nature. This humility, which the Christian religion has intro 
duced into the sentiments, and which, as we shall presently have 
occasion to observe, has changed the relation of the passions, runs 
through the whole character of the modern Andromache. When 
Hector s widow, in the Iliad, figures to herself the destiny that 
awaits her son, there is something mean in the picture which she 
draws of his future wretchedness. Humility in our religion speaks 
no such language ; it is not less dignified than affecting. The 
Christian submits to the severest vicissitudes of life ; but his 
resignation evidently springs from a principle of virtue, for he 
abases himself under the hand of God alone, and not under the 
hand of man. In fetters he retains his dignity; with a fidelity 
unmixed with fear, he despises the chains which he is to ^ear but 
for a moment, and from which Providence will soon release him; 

1 Iliad, b. vi., Pope s translation. 2 ^Eneid, b. xii., Dryden s translation. 


he looks upon the things of this life as naught but dreams, and 
endures his condition without repining, because there is little dif 
erence in his eyes between liberty and servitude, prosperity and 
adversity, the diadem of the monarch and the livery of the slave. 




THE dramatic works of Voltaire furnish us with the example 
of another Christian character the character of the son. This 
is neither the docile Telemachus with Ulysses, nor the fiery 
Achilles with Peleus ; it is a young man with strong passions, 
but who combats and subdues them by religion. 

There is something very attractive in the tragedy of Alzire, 
though consistency of manners is not much observed. You here 
soar into those lovely regions of Christian morality, which, rising 
far above the morality of the vulgar, is of itself a divine poetry. 
The peace that reigns in the bosom of Alvarez is not the mere 
peace of nature. Let us figure to ourselves Nestor striving to 
moderate the passions of Antilochus. He would adduce examples 
of young men who have been undone because they would not 
listen to the counsels of their parents ; then, following up these 
examples with a few trite maxims on the indocility of youth and 
the experience of age, he would crown his remonstrances with a 
panegyric on himself, and look back with regret on the days that 
are past. 

The authority employed by Alvarez is of a very different kind. 
He makes no mention of his age and his paternal authority, that 
he may speak in the name of religion alone. He seeks not to 
dissuade Gusman from the commission of a particular crime ; 
he preaches to him a general virtue, charity, a kind of celestial 
humanity which the Son of man brought down with him to 
earth, where it was a stranger before his coming. 1 Finally, 

1 The ancients themselves owed to their religion the little humanity that is to 
be found among them. Hospitality, respect lor the suppliant and the unf or- 

GUSMAN. 251 

Alvarez commanding his son as a father, and obeying him as a 
subject, is one of those traits of exalted morality as far superior 
to the morality of the ancients as the gospel surpasses the dia 
logues of Plato for the inculcation of the virtues. 

Achilles mangles the body of his enemy and insults him when 
vanquished. Grusman is as proud as that hero; but, sinking 
beneath Zamor s dagger, expiring in the flower of youth, cut off 
at once from an adored wife and the command of a mighty em 
pire, hear the sentence which he pronounces upon his rival and 
his murderer ! behold the admirable triumph of religion and of 
paternal example over a Christian son ! 

[To Alvarez.] My soul is on the wing, 

And here she takes her flight, but waits to see 
And imitate Alvarez. my father ! 
The mask is off; death has at last unveiled 
The hideous scene, and shown me to myself; 
New light breaks in on my astonished soul : 
Oh ! I have been a proud, ungrateful being, 
And trampled on my fellow-creatures ! Heaven 
Avenges earth : my life can ne er atone 
For half the blood I ve shed. Prosperity 
Had blinded Gusman ; death s benignant hand 
Restores my sight; I thank the instrument 
Employed by heaven to make me what I am, 
A penitent. I yet am master here, 
And yet can pardon: Zamor, I forgive thee; 
Live and be free, but oh ! remember how 
A Christian acted, how a Christian died. 

[To Montezuma, who kneels to him.] 

Thou, Montezuma, and ye hapless victims 

Of my ambition, say, my clemency 

Surpassed my guilt, and let your sovereigns know 

That we were born your conquerors. 

[To Zamor.] 

Observe the difference twixt thy gcds and mine; 
Thine teach thee to revenge an injury, 
Mine bids me pity and forgive thee, Zamor. 1 

To what religion belongs this morality and this death ? Here 
reigns an ideal of truth superior to every poetic ideal. When we 

tunate, were the offspring of religious ideas. That the wretche^vrf{)h*i-^ncl 
.some pity upon earth, it was necessary that Jupiter should decl r o f "Roui 1ae r 
protector. Such is the ferocity of man without religion ! 

: Voltaire s Works, translated by Franklin, vol. vi. pp. 260, 261. 



say an ideal of truth, it is no exaggeration; every reader knows 
that the concluding verses 

Observe the difference twixt thy gods and mine, Ac. 

are the very expressions of Fran9ois de Guise. 1 As for the rest 
of this passage, it comprehends the whole substance of the mo 
rality of the gospel : 

Death has at last unveiled 

The hideous scene, and shown me to myself. . . . 

Oh! I have been a proud, ungrateful being, 

And trampled on my fellow-creatures ! 

One trait alone in this piece has not the stamp of Christianity 

It is this : 

Let your sovereigns know 
That we were born your conquerors. 

Here Voltaire meant to make nature and Gusman s haughty 
character burst forth again. The dramatic intention is happy, 
but, taken as an abstract beauty, the idea expressed in these lines 
is very low amid the lofty sentiments with which it is surrounded. 
Such is invariably the appearance of mere nature by the side of 
Christian nature. Voltaire is very ungrateful for calumniating 
that religion which furnished him with such pathetic scenes and 
with his fairest claims to immortality. He ought constantly tc 
have borne in mind these lines, composed, no doubt, under an 
involuntary impulse of admiration : 

Can Christians boast 
Of such exalted virtue ? twas inspired 
By heaven. The Christian law must be divine. 

Can they, we may add, boast of so much genius, of so many 
poetic beauties f 

1 It is not so generally known that Voltaire, in making use of the expres 
sion of Francois de Guise, has borrowed the words from another poet. Rowe 
had previously availed himself of this incident in his Tamerlane, and the author 
of Alzira has been content to translate the passage verbatim from the English 
dramatist : 

Now learn the difference twixt thy faith and mine. . . . 
Thine bids thee lift thy dagger to my throat; 
jhifV j jijffi nft can forgive the wrong, and bid thee live. 


-ancients * 





Iphigenia and Zara. 


FOR the character of the Daughter, Iphigenia and Zara will 
supply us with an interesting parallel. Both, under the constraint 
of paternal authority, devote themselves to the religion of their 
country. Agamemnon, it is true, requires of Iphigenia the two 
fold sacrifice of her love and of her life, and Lusignan requires 
Zara to forget the former alone ; but for a female passionately in 
love to live and renounce the object of her affections is perhaps 
a harder task than to submit to death itself. The two situations, 
therefore, may possess nearly an equal degree of natural interest. 
Let us see whether they are the same in regard to religious in 

Agamemnon, in paying obedience to the gods, does no more, 
after all, than immolate his daughter to his ambition. Why 
should the Greek virgin bow submissive to Jupiter? Is he not 
a tyrant whom she must detest? The spectator sides with Iphi 
genia against Heaven. Pity and terror, therefore, spring solely 
from natural considerations; and if you could retrench religion 
from the piece, it is evident that the theatrical effect would re 
main the same. 

In Zara, on the contrary, if you meddle with the religion you 
destroy the whole. Jesus Christ is not bloodthirsty. He re 
quires no more than the sacrifice of a passion. Has he a right 
tc demand this sacrifice ? Ah ! who can doubt it ? Was it not 
to redeem Zara that he was nailed to the cross, that he endured 
insult, scorn, and the injustice of men, that he drank the cup of 
bitterness to the very dregs? Yet was Zara about to give her 
heart and her hand to those who persecuted this God of charity ! 
tc those who daily sacrificed the professors of his religion ! to 
those who detained in fetters that venerable successor of Bouillon, 
that defen ier of the faith, the father of Zara ! Certainly reli- 


gion is not useless here, and he who would suppress that would 
annihilate the piece. 

Zara, as a tragedy, is, in our opinion, more interesting than 
Iphigenia, for a reason which we shall endeavor to explain. This 
obliges us to recur to the principles of the art. 

It is certain that the characters of tragedy ought to be taken 
from the upper ranks alone of society. This rule is the result of 
certain proprieties which are known to the fine arts as well as to 
the human heart, The picture of the sorrows which we ourselves 
experience pains without interesting or instructing us We 
need not go to the theatre to learn the secrets of our own family. 
Can fiction please us when sad reality dwells beneath our roof? 
No moral is attached to such an imitation. On the contrary, 
when we behold the picture of our condition, we sink into 
despair, or we envy a state that is not our own, and in which we 
imagine that happiness exclusively resides. Take the lower classes 
to the theatre. They seek not there men of straw or repre 
sentations of their own indigence, but persons of distinguished 
rank, invested with the purple. Their ears would fain be filled 
with illustrious names, and their eyes engaged with the misfor 
tunes of kings. 

Morality, curiosity, the dignity of art, refined taste, and perhaps 
nature, envious of man, impose the necessity, therefore, of select 
ing the characters for tragedy from the more elevated ranks of 
society. But, though the person should be distinguished, his 
distresses ought to be common; that is to say, of such a nature 
as to be felt by all. Now it is in this point that Zara seems to 
us more affecting than Iphigenia. 

When the daughter of Agamemnon is doomed to die to facili 
tate the departure of a fleet, the spectator can scarcely feel inte 
rested by such a motive; but in Zara the reason is brought home 
to the heart, and every one can appreciate the struggle between 
a passion and a duty. Hence is derived that grand rule of the 
drama, that the interest of tragedy must be founded, not upon a 
thing, but upon a sentiment, and that the character should be 
remote from the spectator by his rank, but near to him by his 

We might now examine the subject of Iphigenia, as it has been 
handled by the Christian pen of Racine; but the reader can 


pursue this consideration at his discretion. We shall make only 
one observation. 

Father Brumoy remarks that Euripides, in ascribing to Iphi- 
genia a horror of death and a desire to escape it, has adhered 
more closely to nature than Racine, whose Iphigenia seems too 
resigned. The observation is good in itself, but Brumoy over 
looked the circumstance that the modern Iphigenia is the Chris 
tian daughter. Her father and Heaven have commanded, and 
nothing now remains but to obey. Racine has given this courage 
to his heroine merely from the secret influence of a religious in 
stitution, which has changed the groundwork of ideas and of 
morals. Here Christianity goes farther than nature, and conse 
quently harmonizes better with poetry, which aggrandizes objects 
and is fond of exaggeration. The daughter of Agamemnon 
banishing her fears and attachment to life is a much more inte 
resting character than Iphigenia deploring her fate. We are not 
affected only by what is natural. The fear of death is natural to 
man; yet he who laments his own approaching death excites no 
great compassion around him. The human heart desires more 
than it accomplishes. It is chiefly prone to admiration, and feels 
a secret impetus toward that unknown beauty for which it was 
originally formed. 

Such is the constitution of the Christian religion that it is it 
self a kind of poetry, viewing, as it does, every character in its 
beau-ideal. Witness, for instance, the representation of martyrs 
by our painters, of knights by our poets, &c. The portraiture of 
vice is susceptible of as much strength and vividness from the 
Christian pen as that of virtue; because the heinousness of crime 
is in proportion to the number of bonds which the guilty man has 
broken asunder. The Muses, therefore, who are averse to medio 
crity, find ample resources in that religion which always exhibits 
its characters above or below the ordinary standard of humanity. 

To complete the circle of the natural characters, we should 
treat of fraternal affection ; but all that we have said concerning 
the son and the daughter is equally applicable to two brothers, 
or to brother and sister. For the rest, we find in the Bible the 
history of Cain and Abel, the great and first tragedy that the 
world beheld ; and we shall speak in another place of Joseph and 
ms brethren. 


Finally, the Christian religion, while it deprives the poet of 
none of the advantages enjoyed by antiquity for the delineation 
of the natural characters, offers him, in addition, all its influence 
in those same characters, necessarily augments his power by in 
creasing his means, and multiplies the beauties of the drama by 
multiplying the sources from which they spring. 


The Priest. 

THOSE characters which we have denominated social are re 
duced by the poet to two the priest and the soldier. Had we 
not set apart the fourth division of our work for the history of 
the clergy and the benefits which they confer, it would be an easy 
task to show here how far superior, in point of variety and gran 
deur, is the character of the Christian priest to that of the priest 
of polytheism. What exquisite pictures might be drawn, from 
the pastor of the rustic hamlet to the pontiff whose brows are en 
circled with the papal tiara ; from the parish priest of the city to 
the anchoret of the rock ; from the Carthusian and the inmate of 
La Trappe to the learned Benedictine; from the missionary, and 
the multitude of religious devoted to the alleviation of all the ills 
that afflict humanity, to the inspired prophet of ancient Sion ! 
The order of virgins is not less varied or numerous, nor less varied 
in its pursuits. Those daughters of charity who consecrate their 
youth and their charms to the service of the afflicted, those inha 
bitants of the cloister who, under the protection of the altar, edu 
cate the future wives of men, while they congratulate themselves 
on their own union with a heavenly spouse, this whole inno 
cent family is in admirable correspondence with the nine sisters 
of fable. Antiquity presented nothing more to the poet than a 
high-priest, a sorcerer, a vestal, a sibyl. These characters, more- 


over, were but accidentally introduced; whereas the Christian priest 
is calculated to act one of the most important parts in the epic. 

M. de la Harpe has shown in his Melanie what effects may be 
produced with the character of a village curate when delineated 
by an able hand. Shakspeare, Richardson, Goldsmith, have 
brought the priest upon the stage with more or less felicity. As 
to external pomp, what religion was ever accompanied with cere 
monies so magnificent as ours? Corpus Christi day, Christmas, 
Holy-week, Easter, All-souls, the funeral ceremony, the Mass, and 
a thousand other rites, furnish an inexhaustible subject for splen 
did or pathetic descriptions. 1 The modern muse that complains 
of Christianity cannot certainly be acquainted with its riches. 
Tasso has described a procession in the Jerusalem, and it is one 
of the finest passages in his poem. In short, the ancient sacrifice 
itself is not banished from the Christian subject; for nothing is 
more easy than, by means of an episode, a comparison, or a retro 
spective view, to introduce a sacrifice of the ancient covenant. 


The Sibyl Joiada Parallel between Virgil and Racine. 

goes to consult the Sibyl. Having reached the aper 
ture of the cavern, he awaits the awful words of the prophetess. 
He soothes her with a prayer. The Sibyl still struggles. At 
length the god overpowers her. The hundred doors of the cavern 
open with a tremendous noise, and these words float in the air : 
" Oh thou who hast at last completed thy mighty dangers upon 
the ocean !" 

What vehemence, when the god begins to agitate the Sibyl ! 
Take notice of the rapidity of these turns : Deus ! ecce Deus ! 
She touches ste grapples with the spirit. The God! behold 

1 We shall treat of all these ceremonies in another part of our work. 
22* R 


the God! is her exclamation. These expressions non vultus, 
non color unus admirably delineate the agitation of the pro 
phetess. Virgil is remarkable for his negative turns of expres 
sion ; and it may be observed in general that they are very nu 
merous in writers of a pensive genius. May it not be that souls 
endowed with the finer sensibilities are naturally inclined to com 
plain, to desire, to doubt, to express themselves with a kind of 
timidity; and that complaint, desire, doubt, and timidity, are pri 
vations of something? The feeling mind does not positively say, 
lam familiar with adversity; but characterizes itself, like Dido, 
as non iynara mali, not unacquainted with evil. In short, the fa 
vorite images of the pensive poets are almost always borrowed 
from negative objects, as the silence of night, the shade of the 
forests, the solitude of the mountains, the peace of the tombs, 
which are nothing but the absence of noise, of light, of men, and 
of the tumults and storms of life. 1 

However exquisite the beauty of Virgil s verse may be, Chris 
tian poetry exhibits something superior. The high-priest of the 
Hebrews, ready to crown Joas, is seized with the divine spirit in 
the temple of Jerusalem : 

Behold, Eternal Wisdom ! in thy cause 
What champions arm themselves, children and priests ! 
But if the Almighty smile, who can resist them ? 
When he commands, the grave resigns its tenants; 

1 Thus, Euryalus, speaking of his mother, says 


Quam miseram tenuit non Ilia telhu, 

Mecum excedentem non mcenia regie Acettte. 

"My unfortunate mother, who determined to accompany me, and whom 
neither her native soil nor the walls of the king of Acesta had the power to 

A moment afterward he adds 

Nequeam lacrymas perferre parentis. 
"I could not resist the tears of my mother." 

Volsoens is preparing to despatch Euryalus when Nisus exclaims 
Me, me, (adsum qni fed,) 

Mea fraw omnis. Nihil iste nee auw, 

Nee potuit. 

"Mine, mine is all the fault: nothing durst he, nor could he, do." 
The conclusion of this admirable episode is also of a negative character. 


Tis he who wounds and heals, destroys and saves ! 
They trust not, as thou seest, in their own merits, 
But in thy name so oft by them invoked, 
In oaths sworn by thee to their holiest king, 
And in this temple, with thy presence crowned, 
Which, like the sun, from age to age shall last. 
What holy awe is this that thrills my heart? 
Is it the Spirit Divine that seizes on me? 
Tis He himself! He fires uiy breast, he speaks; 
My eyes are opened, and dark, distant ages 

Spring forth to view ! 

Hearken, Heavens! thou Earth, attention keep! 
Jacob, say no more thy God doth sleep. 
Vanish, ye sinners, and with terror fly, 
The Lord awakes, arrayed in majesty ! 

How into drossy lead is changed the gold! 
Who is that bleeding priest I there behold? 
Jerusalem, thou faithless city, weep, 
Who in thy prophet s blood thy sword dost steep. 
Thy God hath banished all his former love, 
And odious now thy fuming odors prove. 
Ah! whither are those youths and women driven? 
The Queen of cities is destroyed by Heaven; 
Her captive priests and kings to strangers bow, 
And God her solemn pomp no longer will allow. 
Ye towering cedars, burn ; thou temple, fall, 
And in one common ruin mingle all. 

Jerusalem, dear object of my grief, 
What daring hand thy strength disarms 
And in one day has ravished all thy charms? 

Oh that, to give me some relief, 
Mine eyes could like two fountains flow, 
With never-ceasing streams to weep thy wo I 1 

This passage requires no comment. 

As Virgil and Racine recur so frequently in our criticisms, let 
us endeavor to form a just idea of their talents and their genius. 
These two great poets so nearly resemble each other, that they 
might deceive the eyes of the Muse herself, like those twins men 
tioned in the ^neid, who occasioned their own mother agreeable 

Both of them carefully polish their works; they are both full 
of taste, bold, yet natural in expression; sublime in the por 
trayal of love, and, as if one had followed the other step by s>tep, 

1 Athalie, act iii. scene vii. From Duncombe s translation. 


Racine has introduced into his Esther a certain sweetness of 
melody, with which Virgil has, in like manner, filled his second 
eclogue. The difference, however, in their respective strains is 
that which exists between the voice of a tender maiden and that 
of a youth, between the sighs of innocence and those of sinful 

These are, perhaps, the points in which Virgil and Racine re 
semble each other; the following are, perhaps, those in which 
they differ. 

The latter is in general superior to the former in the invention 
of character. Agamemnon, Achilles, Orestes, M ithridates, Aco- 
mates, are far superior to all the heroes of the jEneid. ^Eueas 
and Turnus are not finely drawn, except in two or three passages. 
Mezentius alone is boldly delineated. 

In the soft and tender scenes, however, Virgil bursts forth in 
all his genius. Evander, the venerable monarch of Arcadia, 
living beneath a roof of thatch, and defended by two shepherds 
dogs on the very spot where, at a future period, will rise the 
magnificent residence of the Caesars, surrounded by the Praetorian 
guard ; the youthful Pallas ; the comely Lausus, the virtuous son 
of a guilty father; and, lastly, Nisus and Euryalus, are characters 
perfectly divine. 

In the delineation of females Racine resumes the superiority. 
Agrippina is more ambitious than Amata, and Phaedra more im 
passioned than Dido. 

We shall say nothing of Athalie, because in this piece Racine 
stands unrivalled; it is the most perfect production of genius in 
spired by religion. 

In another particular, however, Virgil has the advantage over 
Racine; he is more pensive, more melancholy. Not that the 
author of Phaedra would have been incapable of producing this 
melody of sighs. The role of Andromache, Berenice throughout, 
some stanzas of hymns in imitation of the Bible, several strophes 
of the choruses in Esther and Athalie, exhibit the powers which 
he possessed in this way. But he lived too much in society, and 
too little in solitude. The court of Louis XIV., though it refined 
his taste and gave him the majesty of forms, was, perhaps, detri 
mental to him in other respects ; it placed him at too great a dis 
tance from nature and rural simplicity. 


We have already remarked 1 that one of the principal causes 
of Virgil s melancholy was, doubtless, the sense of the hardships 
which he had undergone in his youth. Though driven from his 
home, the memory of his Mantua was never to be eifaced. But 
he was no longer the Roman of the republic, loving his country 
in the harsh and rugged manner of a Brutus; he was the Roman 
of the monarchy of Augustus, the rival of Homer, and the nurs 
ling of the Muses. 

Virgil cultivated this germ of melancholy by living in solitude. 
To this circumstance must, perhaps, be added some others of a 
personal nature. Our moral or physical defects have a powerful 
influence upon our temper, and are frequently the secret origin 
of the predominant feature of our character. Virgil had a diffi 
culty in pronunciation, 2 a weakly constitution, and rustic appear 
ance. He seems in his youth to have had strong passions ; and 
these natural imperfections, perhaps, proved obstacles to their 
indulgence. Thus, family troubles, the love of a country life, 
wounded self-love, and passions debarred of gratification, con 
curred in giving him that tincture of melancholy which charms 
us in his productions. 

We meet with no such thing in Racine as the Diis aliter visum 
the Dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos the Disce puer vir- 
tutem ex me, fortunam ex aliis the Lyrnessi damns alta : sola 
Laurente sepulchrum. It may not, perhaps, be superfluous to 
observe that almost all these expressions fraught with melan 
choly occur in the last six books of the ^Eneid, as well as the 
episodes of Evander and Pallas, Mezentius and Lausus, and Nisus 
and Euryalus. It would seem that as he approached the tomb 
the Mantuan bard transfused something more divine than ever 
into his strains; like those swans of the Eurotas, consecrated to 
the Muses, which just before they expired were favored, accord 
ing to Pythagoras, with an inward view of Olympus, and mani 
fested their pleasure by strains of melody. 

Virgil is the friend of the solitary, the companion of the pri 
vate hours of life. Racine is, perhaps, superior to the Latin 
poet, because he was the author of Atlialiej but in the latter 

1 Part I., book v., chap. 14. 

2 Sermone tardissimitm, ac pene indocto similem facie rusticanA, <tc. 

Donat., de P. Yirg. vit. 


there is something that excites softer emotions in the heart. We 
feel greater admiration for the one, greater love for the other 
The sorrows depicted by the first are too royal ; the second ad 
dresses himself more to all ranks of society. On surveying the 
pictures of human vicissitudes delineated by Racine, we may 
imagine ourselves wandering in the deserted parks of Versailles ; 
they are vast and dull, but amid the growing solitude we perceive 
the regular hand of art and the vestiges of former grandeur : 

Naught meets the eye but towers reduced to ashes, 
A river tinged with blood, and desert plains. 

The pictures of Virgil, without possessing less dignity, are not 
confined to certain prospects of life. They represent all nature ; 
they embrace the solitudes of the forests, the aspect of the moun 
tains, the shores of ocean, where exiled females fix their weeping 
eyes on its boundless billows : 

Cunctaeque profunduin 
Pontum adspectabant flentes. 



THE heroic ages are favorable to poetry, because they have 
that antiquity and that uncertainty of tradition which are required 
by the Muses, naturally somewhat addicted to fiction. We daily 
behold extraordinary events without taking any interest in them ; 
but we listen with delight to the relation of the obscure facts of 
a distant period. The truth is, that the greatest events in this 
world are extremely little in themselves : the mind, sensible of 
this defect in human affairs, and tending incessantly toward im 
mensity, wishes to behold them only through an indistinct me 
dium, that it may magnify their importance. 

Now, the spirit of the heroic ages is formed by the union of an 
imperfect civilization with a religious system at the highest point 
of its influence. Barbarism and polytheism produced the heroea 


of Homer ; from barbarism and Christianity arose the knights of 

Which of the two the heroes or the knights deserve the pre 
ference either in morals or in poetry ? This is a question that it 
may not be amiss to examine. 

Setting aside the particular genius of the two poets, and com 
paring only man with man, the characters of the Jerusalem ap 
pear to us superior to those of the Iliad. 

Wha,t a vast difference, in fact, between those knights so in 
genuous, so disinterested, so humane, and those perfidious, ava 
ricious, ferocious warriors of antiquity, who insulted the lifeless 
remains of their enemies, as poetical by their vices as the for 
mer were by their virtues ! 

If by heroism is meant an effort against the passions in favor 
of virtue, then, most assuredly, Godfrey is the genuine hero, not 
Agamemnon. Now, we would ask how it happens that Tasso, in 
delineating his characters, has exhibited the pattern of the per 
fect soldier, while Homer, in representing the men of the heroic 
ages, has produced but a species of monsters ? The reason is, 
that Christianity, ever since its first institution, has furnished the 
Deau-ideal in morals, or the beau-ideal of character, while poly 
theism was incapable of bestowing this important advantage on 
the Grecian bard. We request the reader s attention for a mo 
ment to this subject; it is of too much consequence to the main 
design of our work not to be placed in its clearest light. 

There are two kinds of the beautiful ideal, the moral and the 
physical, both of which are the offspring of society, and to both 
such people as are bit little removed from the state of nature 
the savages, for instance are utter strangers. They merely aim 
in their songs at giving a faithful representation of what they 
see. As they live in the midst of deserts, their pictures are 
noble and simple j you find in them no marks of bad taste, but 
then they are monotonous, and the sentiments which they express 
never rise to heroism. 

The age of Homer was already remote from those early times. 
When a savage pierces a roebuck with his arrows, strips off the 
skin in the recess of the forest, lays his victim upon the coals of 
a burning oak, every circumstance in this action is poetic. But 
in the tent of Achilles there are already bowls, spits, vessels A 


few more details, and Homer would have sunk into meanness in 
his descriptions, or he must have entered the path of the beauti 
ful ideal by beginning to conceal. 

Thus, in proportion as society multiplied the wants of life, poets 
learned that they ought not, as in past times, to exhibit every 
circumstance to the eye, but to throw a veil over certain parts of 
the picture. 

Having advanced this first step, they perceived that it was 
likewise necessary to select; and then that the object selected 
was susceptible of a more beautiful form, or produced a more 
agreeable effect in this or in that position. 

Continuing thus to hide and to select, to add and to retrench, 
they gradually attained to forms which ceased to be natural, but 
which were more perfect than nature; by artiste these forms 
were denominated the beautiful ideal. 

The beautiful ideal may, therefore, be defined the art of select 
ing and concealing. 

This definition is equally applicable to the beautiful ideal in the 
moral and to that in the physical order. The latter consists in 
the dexterous concealment of the weak part of objects; the 
former in hiding certain foibles of the soul for the soul has its 
low wants and blemishes as well as the body. 

Here we cannot forbear remarking that naught but man is sus 
ceptible of being represented more perfect than nature, and, as it 
were, approaching to the Divinity. Who ever thought of delineat 
ing the bea utiful ideal of a horse, an eagle, or a lion ? We be 
hold here an admirable proof of the grandeur of our destiny and 
the immortality of the soul. 

That society in which morals first reached their complete de 
velopment must have been the first to attain the beautiful moral 
ideal, or, what amounts to the same thing, the beautiful ideal of 
character. Now, such was eminently the case with that portion 
of mankind who were formed under the Christian dispensation. 
It is not more strange than true that, while our forefathers were 
barbarous in every other respect, morals had, by means of the 
gospel, been raised to the highest degree of perfection among 
them ; so that there existed men who, if we may be allowed the 
expression, were at the same time savages in body and civilized 
in mind. 


This circumstance constitutes the beauty of the ages of chi 
valry, and gives them a superiority over the heroic as well as over 
modern times. 

If you undertake to delineate the early ages of Greece, you 
will be as much shocked by their rudeness of character as you 
will be pleased with the simplicity of their manners. Polytheism 
furnishes no means of correcting barbarous nature and supply 
ing the deficiencies of the primitive virtues. 

If, on the other hand, you wish to sketch a modern age, you will 
be obliged to banish all truth from your work, and to adopt both 
the beautiful moral ideal and the beautiful physical ideal. Too 
remote from nature and from religion in every respect, you could 
not faithfully depict the interior of our families, and still less the 
secret of our hearts. 

Chivalry alone presents the charming mixture of truth and 

In the first place, you may exhibit a picture of manners accu 
rately copied from nature. An ancient castle, a spacious hall, a 
blazing fire, jousts, tournaments, hunting parties, the sound of the 
horn, and the clangor of arms, have nothing that offends against 
taste, nothing that ought to be either selected or concealed. 

In the next place, the Christian poet, more fortunate than 
Homer, is not compelled to tarnish his picture by introducing 
into it the barbarous or the natural man ; Christianity offers him 
the perfect hero. 

Thus, while we see Tasso merged in nature for the description 
of physical objects, he rises above nature for the perfection of 
those in the moral order. 

Now, nature and the ideal are the two great sources of all 
poetic interest the pathetic and the marvellous. 




WE shall now show that the virtues of the knights which exalt 
their character to the beautiful ideal are truly Christian virtues. 

If they were but mere moral virtues, invented by the poet, 
they would have neither action nor elasticity. We have an 
instance of this kind in ./Eneas, whom Virgil has made a philo 
sophic hero. 

The purely moral virtues are essentially frigid ; they imply not 
something added to the soul, but something retrenched from it ; 
it is the absence of vice rather than the presence of virtue. 1 

The religious virtues have wings ; they are highly impassioned. 
Not content with abstaining from evil, they are anxious to do 
good. They possess the activity of love; they reside in a superioi 
region, the objects in which appear somewhat magnified. Such 
were the virtues of chivalry. 

Faith or fidelity was the first virtue of the knights; faith is, in 
like manner, the first virtue of Christianity. 

The knight never told a lie. Here is the Christian. 

The knight was poor, and the most disinterested of men. Here 
you see the disciple of the gospel. 

The knight travelled through the world, assisting the widow 
and the orphan. Here you behold the charity of Jesus Christ. 

The knight possessed sensibility and delicacy. What could 
have given him these amiable qualities but a humane religion 
which invariably inculcates respect for the weak ? With what 
benignity does Christ himself address the women in the gospel ! 

Agamemnon brutally declares that he loves Briseis as dearly aa 
his wife, because she is not less skilful in ornamental works. 
Such is not the language of a knight. 

Finally, Christianity has produced that valor of modern heroes 
which is so far superior to that of the heroes of antiquity. 

1 The distinction between moral and religious virtues is not exact The 
author would have written more correctly on this point by using the word 
natural instead of n oral. T. 


The true religion teaches us that the merit of a man should 
be measured not by bodily strength, but by greatness of soul. 
Hence the weakest of the knights never quakes in presence of 
an enemy; and, though certain to meet death, he has not even a 
thought of flight. 

This exalted valor is become so common that the lowest of our 
private soldiers is more courageous than an Ajax, who fled before 
Hector, who in his turn ran away from Achilles. As to the cle 
mency of the Christian knight toward the vanquished, who can 
deny that it springs from Christianity? 

Modern poets have borrowed a multitude of new characters 
from the chivalrous age. In tragedy, it will be sufficient to men 
tion Tancred, Nemours, Couci, and that Nerestan who brings 
the ransom of his brethren in arms at a moment when all hope 
of his return has fled, and surrenders himself a prisoner because 
he cannot pay the sum required for his own redemption. How 
beautiful these Christian morals ! Let it not be said that this is 
a purely poetical invention; there are a hundred instances of 
Christians who have resigned themselves into the hands of infi 
dels, either to deliver other Christians, or because they were un 
able to raise the sum which they had promised. 

Everybody knows how favorable chivalry is to the epic poem. 
How admirable are all the knights of the Jerusalem Delivered! 
Kinaldo so brilliant, Tancred so generous, the venerable Raymond 
de Toulouse, always dejected and always cheered again ! You 
are among them beneath the walls of Solyma; you hear the 
young Bouillon, speaking of Armida, exclaim, " What will they 
say a^ the court of France when it is known that we have refused 
our aid to beauty?" To be convinced at once of the immense 
difference between Homer s heroes and those of Tasso, cast your 
eyes upon Godfrey s camp and the ramparts of Jerusalem. 
Here are the knights, there the heroes of antiquity. Solyman 
himself appears to advantage only because the poet has given him 
some traits of the generosity of the chevalier ; so that even the 
principal hero of the infidels borrows his majesty from Christianity. 
But in Godfrey we admire the perfection of the heroic cha 
racter. When jJEneas would escape the seduction of a female, he 
fixed his eyes on the ground, immota tenebat lumina ; he con 
cealed his agitation, and gave vague replies : " queen, I deny 




WE shall now show that the virtues of the knights which exalt 
their character to the beautiful ideal are truly Christian virtues. 

If they were but mere moral virtues, invented by the poet, 
they would have neither action nor elasticity. We have an 
instance of this kind in ./Eneas, whom Virgil has made a philo 
sophic hero. 

The purely moral virtues are essentially frigid ; they imply not 
something added to the soul, but something retrenched from it ; 
it is the absence of vice rather than the presence of virtue. 1 

The religious virtues have wings ; they are highly impassioned. 
Not content with abstaining from evil, they are anxious to do 
good. They possess the activity of love ; they reside in a superioi 
region, the objects in which appear somewhat magnified. Such 
were the virtues of chivalry. 

Faith or fidelity was the first virtue of the knights; faith is, in 
like manner, the first virtue of Christianity. 

The knight never told a lie. Here is the Christian. 

The knight was poor, and the most disinterested of men. Here 
you see the disciple of the gospel. 

The knight travelled through the world, assisting the widow 
and the orphan. Here you behold the charity of Jesus Christ. 

The knight possessed sensibility and delicacy. What could 
have given him these amiable qualities but a humane religion 
which invariably inculcates respect for the weak ? With what 
benignity does Christ himself address the women in the gospel ! 

Agamemnon brutally declares that he loves Briseis as dearly aa 
his wife, because she is not less skilful in ornamental works. 
Such is not the language of a knight. 

Finally, Christianity has produced that valor of modern heroes 
which is so far superior to that of the heroes of antiquity. 

1 The distinction between moral and religious virtues is not exact The 
author would have written more correctly on this point by using the word 
natural instead of ti oral. T. 


The true religion teaches us that the merit of a man should 
be measured not by bodily strength, but by greatness of soul. 
Hence the weakest of the knights never quakes in presence of 
an enemy; and, though certain to meet death, he has not even a 
thought of flight. 

This exalted valor is become so common that the lowest of our 
private soldiers is more courageous than an Ajax, who fled before 
Hector, who in his turn ran away from Achilles. As to the cle 
mency of the Christian knight toward the vanquished, who can 
deny that it springs from Christianity? 

Modern poets have borrowed a multitude of new characters 
from the chivalrous age. In tragedy, it will be sufficient to men 
tion Tancred, Nemours, Couci, and that Nerestan who brings 
the ransom of his brethren in arms at a moment when all hope 
of his return has fled, and surrenders himself a prisoner because 
he cannot pay the sum required for his own redemption. How 
beautiful these Christian morals ! Let it not be said that this is 
a purely poetical invention ; there are a hundred instances of 
Christians who have resigned themselves into the hands of infi 
dels, either to deliver other Christians, or because they were un 
able to raise the sum which they had promised. 

Everybody knows how favorable chivalry is to the epic poem. 
How admirable are all the knights of the Jerusalem Delivered! 
Rinaldo so brilliant, Tancred so generous, the venerable Raymond 
de Toulouse, always dejected and always cheered again ! You 
are among them beneath the walls of Solyma; you hear the 
young Bouillon, speaking of Armida, exclaim, " What will they 
say at the court of France when it is known that we have refused 
our aid to beauty?" To be convinced at once of the immense 
difference between Homer s heroes and those of Tasso, cast your 
eyes upon Godfrey s camp and the ramparts of Jerusalem. 
Here are the knights, there the heroes of antiquity. Solyman 
himself appears to advantage only because the poet has given him 
some traits of the generosity of the chevalier ; so that even the 
principal hero of the infidels borrows his majesty from Christianity. 
But in Godfrey we admire the perfection of the heroic cha 
racter. When JEneas would escape the seduction of a female, he 
fixed his eyes on the ground, immota tenebat lumina ; he con 
cealed his agitation, and gave vague replies: "0 queen, I deny 


not thy favors; I shall ever remember Elisa." Not thus does the 
Christian chieftain listen to the addresses of Armida. He resists, 
for too well is he acquainted with the frail allurements of this 
world ; he pursues his flight toward heaven, like the glutted bird, 
heedless of the specious food which invites him. 

Qual saturo augel, che non si cali, 

Ove il cibo mostrando, altri Pinvita. 

In combat, in deliberation, in appeasing a sedition, in every 
situation, Bouillon is great, is august. Ulysses strikes Thersites 
with his sceptre, and stops the Greeks when running to their 
ships. This is natural and picturesque. But behold Godfrey 
singly showing himself to an enraged army, which accuses him 
of having caused the assassination of a hero ! What noble and 
impressive beauty in the prayer of this captain, so proudly con 
scious of his virtue ! and how this prayer afterward heightens 
the intrepidity of the warrior, who, unarmed and bareheaded, 
meets a mutinous soldiery ! 

In battle, a sacred and majestic valor, unknown to the war 
riors of Homer and Virgil, animates the Christian hero. ^Eneas, 
protected by his divine armor, and standing on the stern of his 
galley as it approaches the Rutulian shore, is in a fine epic atti 
tude; Agamemnon, like the thundering Jupiter, displays an 
image replete with grandeur; but in the last canto of % Jeru 
salem, Godfrey is described in a manner not inferior either to the 
progenitor of the Caesars or to the leader of the Atrides. 

The sun has just risen, and the armies have taken their posi 
tion. The banners wave in the wind, the plumes float on the 
helmets; the rich caparisons of the horses, and the steel and 
gold armor of the knights, glisten in the first rays of the orb of 
day. Mounted on a swift charger, Godfrey rides through the 
ranks of his army; he harangues his followers, and his address 
s a model of military eloquence. A glory surrounds his head; 
his face beams with unusual splendor; the angel of victory covera 
him with his wings. Profound silence ensues. The prostrate 
legions adore that Almighty who caused the great Goliah to fall 
by the hand of a youthful shepherd. The trumpets suddenly 
sound the charge; the Christian soldiers rise, and, invigorated by 
the strength of the God of Hosts, rush, undaunted, and confident 
of victory, upon the hostile battalions of the Saracens. 





FROM the examination of characters, we come to that of the 
passions. It is obvious that in treating of the former it was 
impossible to avoid touching a little upon the latter, but here we 
purpose to enter more largely into the subject. If there existed 
a religion whose essential quality it was to oppose a barrier to 
the passions of man, it would of necessity increase the operation 
of those passions in the drama and the epopee ; it would, from its 
very nature, be more favorable to the delineation of sentiment 
than any other religious institution, which, unacquainted with 
the errors of the heart, would act upon us only by means of ex 
ternal objects. Now, here lies the great advantage which Chris 
tianity possesses over the religions of antiquity : it is a heavenly 
wind which fills the sails of virtue and multiplies the storms of 
conscience in opposition to vice. 

Since the proclamation of the gospel, the foundations of morals 
have changed among men, at least among Christians. Among 
the ancients, for example, humility was considered as meanness 
and pride as magnanimity; among Christians, on the contrary, 
pride is the first of vices and humility the chief of virtues. This 
single change of principles displays human nature in a new fight, 
and we cannot help discovering in the passions shades that were 
not perceived in them by the ancients. 

2<5* 269 


With us, then, vanity is the root of evil, and charity the feourcc 
of good; so that the vicious passions are invariably a compound 
of pride, and the virtuous passions a compound of love. 

Apply this principle, and you will be convinced of its truth. 
Why are all the passions allied to courage more pleasing among 
the moderns than among the ancients? Why have we given 
another character to valor, and transformed a brutal impulse into 
a virtue? Because with this impulse has been associated hu 
mility. From this combination has arisen magnanimity or poetic 
generosity, a species of passion (for to that length it was carried 
by the knights) to which the ancients were utter strangers. 

One of our most delightful sentiments, and perhaps the only 
one that absolutely belongs to the soul, (for all the others have 
some admixture of sense in their nature or their object,) is friend 
ship. How wonderfully has Christianity heightened the charms 
of this celestial passion, by giving it charity for its foundation! 
St. John was the disciple whom Jesus loved, and, before he ex 
pired on the cross, friendship heard him pronounce those words 
truly worthy of a God : " Woman, behold thy son!" said he to 
his mother, and to the disciple, "Behold thy mother!" 

Christianity, which has revealed our twofold nature and laid 
open the contradictions of our being and the good and bad of our 
heart, which, like ourselves, is full of contrasts, exhibiting to us 
an incarnate God, an infant who is at the same time the ruler of 
the spheres, the Creator of the universe receiving life from a 
creature, Christianity, we say, viewed in this light of contrasts, 
is super-eminently the religion of friendship. This sentiment is 
strengthened as much by oppositions as by resemblances. That 
two men may be perfect friends, they must incessantly, in some 
way, attract and repel one another; they must have genius of 
equal power, but of a different kind ; contrary opinions, but simi 
lar principles ; different antipathies and partialities, but at the 
bottom the same sensibility ; opposite tempers, and yet like tastes : 
in a word, great contrasts of character and great harmonies of 

This genial warmth which charity communicates to the virtuous 
passions imparts to them a divine character. Among the an 
cients, the reign of the affections terminated with the grave : 
here every thing suffered shipwreck. Friends, brothers, husband 


and wife, parted at the gates of death, and felt that their separa 
tion was eternal. The height of their felicity consisted in ming 
ling their ashes together; but how mournful must have been an 
urn containing naught but recollections ! Polytheism had fixed 
man in the regions of the past; Christianity has placed him in 
the domain of hope. The joys derived from virtuous sentiments 
on earth are but a foretaste of the bliss that is reserved for us. 
The principle of our friendships is not in this world : two beings 
who mutually love each other here befow are only on the road to 
heaven, where they will arrive together if virtue be their guide ; 
so that this strong expression employed by the poets to transfuse 
your soul into that of your friend is literally true in respect 
of two Christians. In quitting their bodies, they merely disen 
cumber themselves of an obstacle which prevented their more 
intimate union, and their souls fly to be commingled in the bosom 
of the Almighty. 

It must not be supposed, however, that Christianity, in reveal 
ing to us the foundations upon which rest the passions of men, 
has stripped life of its enchantments. Far from sullying the 
imagination by allowing it to indulge in unbounded curiosity, it 
has drawn the veil of doubt and obscurity over things which it is 
useless for us to know ; and in this it has shown its superiority 
over that false philosophy which is too eager to penetrate into 
the nature of man and to fathom the bottom of every thing. We 
should not be continually sounding the abysses of the heart ; the 
truths which it contains belong to the number of those that re 
quire half light and perspective. It is highly imprudent to be 
incessantly applying our judgment to the loving part of our 
being, to transfer the reasoning spirit to the passions. This 
curiosity gradually leads us to doubt of every thing generous and 
noble ; it extinguishes the sensibilities, and, as it were, murders 
the soul. The mysteries of the heart are like those of ancient 
Egypt; every profane person who strives to penetrate into their 
secrets without being initiated by religion, as a just punishment 
for his audacity is suddenly struck dead. 





WHAT in our times we properly call love is a sentiment the 
very name of which was unknown to remote antiquity. That 
mixture of the senses and of the soul, that species of love of 
which friendship is the moral element, is the growth of modern 
ages. To Christianity also we are indebted for this sentiment in 
its refined state ; for Christianity, invariably tending to purify 
the heart, has found means to transfuse spirituality even into the 
passion that seemed least susceptible of it. Here, then, is a new 
source of poetic description, with which this much reviled reli 
gion has furnished the very authors who insult it. In numberless 
novels may be seen the beauties that have been elicited from this 
demi-christian passion. The character of Clementina in Sir 
Charles Grandison, for instance, is one of those master-pieces of 
composition of which antiquity affords no example. Lut let us 
penetrate into this subject: let us first consider impassioned love, 
and afterward take a view of rural love. 

The first kind of love is neither as pure as conjugal affection 
nor as graceful as the sentiment of the shepherd, but fiercer than 
either ; it ravages the soul in which it reigns. Resting neither 
upon the gravity of marriage nor upon the innocence of rural 
manners, and blending no other spells with its own, it becomes 
its own illusion, its own insanity, its own substance. Unknown 
by the too busy mechanic and the too simple husbandman, this 
passion exists only in those ranks of society where want of em 
ployment leaves us oppressed with the whole weight of our heart, 
together with its immense self-love and its everlasting inquietudes. 

So true is it that Christianity sheds a brilliant light into the 
abyss of our passions, that the orators of the pulpit have been 
most successful in delineating the excesses of the human heart 
and painting them in the strongest and most impressive colors. 
What a picture has BourdaJoue drawn of ambition ! How Mas- 

DIDO. 273 

sillon has penetrated into the inmost recesses of our souls, and 
drawn forth our passions and our vices into open day ! " It is the 
character of this passion/ observes that eloquent preacher, when 
speaking of love, " to fill the whole heart : we can think of 
nothing else ; it absorbs, it intoxicates us ; we find it wherever 
we are ; there is nothing but what revives its fatal images, but 
what awakens its unjust desires. Society and solitude, presence 
and absence, the most indifferent objects and the most serious 
occupations, the holy temple itself, the sacred altars, the awful 
mysteries of religion, renew its recollections." 1 

"It is culpable," says the same preacher in another place, 2 
" to love for its own sake what cannot tend to our felicity, our 
perfection, or consequently to our peace: for in love we seek 
happiness in what we love; we desire to find in the beloved 
object all that the heart stands in need of; we call upon it as a 
remedy for the dreadful void which we feel within us, arid flatter 
ourselves that it will be capable of filling it ; we consider it as 
a resource for all our wants, the cure for all our sorrows, the 
author of all our happiness But this love of the crea 
ture is attended with the keenest anxiety; we always doubt 
whether we are beloved with a warmth of affection equal to our 
own; we are ingenious in tormenting ourselves, assiduous in 
accumulating fears, suspicions, and jealousies; the more sincere 
our passion, the more acutely we suffer ; we become the victims 
of our own distrust. All this you know, and it is not for me to 
come hither to address you in the language of your insensate 

This great disease of the soul bursts forth in all its fury on the 
appearance of the object which is destined to develop the seeds 
of it. Dido is still engaged with the works of her infant city; a 
tempest arises, and a hero is cast upon her shores. The queen is 
agitated; a secret fire circulates in her veins, indiscretions begin, 
pleasures follow, disappointment and remorse succeed. Dido is 
soon forsaken; she. looks round her with horror, and perceives 
naught but precipices. How has that structure cf happiness 
fallen, of which an exalted imagination had been the amorous 

Massillon s Sermon on the Prodigal Son, part i. 
2 Sermon on the Adulteress, part i. 



architect, like those palaces of clouds tinged for a few moments 
with the roseate hues of the setting sun ? Dido flies in quest of 
her lover ; she calls the faithless ^Eneas : 

" Perfidious man, hopest thou to conceal from me thy de&igns 
and escape clandestinely from this country? Can neither our 
love, nor this hand which I have given to thee, nor Dido ready 
to ascend the fatal pile can nothing stay thy treacherous steps?" 1 

What anguish, what passion, what truth, in the eloquence of 
this betrayed woman ! Her feelings so throng in her heart that 
she produces them in confusion, incoherent, and separate, just as 
they accumulate on her lips. Take notice of the authorities 
which she employs in her prayers. Is it in the name of the 
gods, in the name of a vain sovereignty, that she speaks ? No ; 
she does not even insist upon Dido forsaken ; but, more humble 
and more affectionate, she implores the son of Venus only by 
tears, only by the very hand of the traitor. If to this she adds 
the idea of love, it is only to extend it to ^Eneas : " By our nup 
tials, by our union already begun." Per connubia nostra, per 
inceptos hi/mcnccos. She also appeals to the places that had 
witnessed her transports j for the unfortunate are accustomed to 
associate surrounding objects with their sentiments. When for 
saken by men, they strive to create a support for themselves by 
animating the insensible objects around them with their sorrows. 
That roof, that hospitable hearth, to which she once welcomed 
the ungrateful chieftain, are therefore the real deities of Dido. 
Afterward, with the address of a woman, and of a woman in love, 
she successively calls to mind Pygmalion and larbas, in order to 
awaken the generosity or the jealousy of the Trojan hero. As 
the finishing stroke of her passion and her distress, the haughty 
queen of Carthage goes so far as to wish that "a little ^Eneas," 
parvulus jEneas, may be left behind at her court to soothe her 
grief, even while attesting her shame. She imagines that so 
many tears, so many imprecations, so many entreaties, are argu 
ments which it is impossible for ^Eneas to withstand ; for in these 
moments of insanity, the passions, incapable of pleading their 
cause, conceive that they are availing themselves of all their re 
sources when they are only putting forth a turbulent clamor. 

, b. iv. 



The Phaedra of Racine. 

^ E might be content with opposing to Dido the Phaedra of 
Racine. More impassioned than the queen of Carthage, she is a 
Christian wife. The fear of the avenging flames and the awful 
eternity of hell is manifest throughout the whole part of this 
guilty woman, 1 and particularly in the celebrated scene of jea 
lousy, which, as everybody knows, is the invention of the modern 
poet. Incest was not so rare and monstrous a crime among the 
ancients as to excite such apprehensions in the heart of the cul 
prit. Sophocles, it is true, represents Jocasta as expiring the 
moment she is made acquainted with her guilt, but Euripides 
makes her live a considerable time afterward. If we may believe 
Tertullian, 3 the sorrows of OEdipus excited nothing but the ridi 
cule of the spectators in Macedonia. Virgil has not placed 
Phaedra in the infernal regions, but only in those myrtle groves, 
" those mournful regions" where wander lovers "whom death 
itself has not relieved from their pains." 3 

Thus the Phaedra of Euripides, as well as the Phaedra of Se 
neca, is more afraid of Theseus than of Tartarus. Neither the 
one nor the other expresses herself like the Phaedra of Racine : 

What! Phaedra jealous! and doth she implore 

Thy pity, Theseus ? and while Theseus lives 

Doth her lewd breast burn with unhallowed fire ? 

And ah ! whose love doth she aspire to gain? 

At that dread thought what horrors rend my soul! 

The measure of my crimes is surely full, 

Swelled as it is with incest and imposture ; 

My murderous hand?, athirst with vengeance, burn 

To bathe them in the blood of innocence. 

Still, miscreant, canst thou live? canst thou support 

The light of his pure beams from whom thou rt sprung? 

This fear of Tartarus is slightly alluded to in Euripides. 

2 Tertu ., Apolog. 3 ^Eneid, lib. vi. 444. 


Where shall I hide? The awful T5ire and sovereign 
Of all the gods is my forefather too, 
And heaven and earth teem with my ancestors. 
What if I hasten to the realms of night 
Infernal, there iny father holds the urn, 
Which Fate, tis said, gave to his rigid hands; 
There Minos sits in judgment on mankind. 
How will his venerable shade, aghast, 
Behold his daughter, when at his tribunal 
Constrained to avow her manifold misdeeds 
And crimes perhaps unheard-of even in hell ? 
How, my parent, how wilt thou endure 
This racking spectacle? Methinks I see 
The fateful urn drop from thy trembling hand; 
Methinks, with brow austere, I see thee-sit, 
Devising gome new penalty for guilt 
Without a parallel. But ah ! relent ! 
- Have mercy on thine offspring, whom the rage 
Of an incensed deity hath plunged 
In nameless woes. Alas ! my tortured heart 
Hath reaped no harvest from the damning crime 
That steeps my name in lasting infamy ! 

This incomparable passage exhibits a gradation of feeling, a 
knowledge of the sorrows, the anguish, and the transports of the 
soul, which the ancients never approached. Among them we 
meet with fragments, as it were, of sentiments, but rarely with a 
complete sentiment; here, on the contrary, the whole heart is 
poured forth. The most energetic exclamation, perhaps, that 
passion ever dictated, is contained in the concluding lines : 

Alas ! my tortured heart 

Hath reaped no harvest from the damning crime 
That steeps my name in lasting infamy. 

In this there is a mixture of sensuality and soul, of despair 
and amorous fury, that surpasses all expression. This woman 
who would console herself for an eternity of pain had she but 
enjoyed a single moment of happiness this woman is not repre 
sented in the antique character ; she is the reprobate Christian; 
the sinner fallen alive into the hands of God ; her words are the 
words of the self-cordenmed to everlasting tortures. 



Julia d Etange Clementina. 

BUT now the scene will change : we shall hear that impas 
sioned love, so terrible in the Christian Phasdra, eliciting only 
tender sighs from the bosom of the pious Julia ; hers is the voice 
of melancholy, issuing from the sanctuary of peace. Hers are 
the accents of love, softened and prolonged by the religious echo 
of the holy place. 

" The region of chimeras is the only one in this world that is 
worth living in ; and such is the vanity of all human things, that, 
except the Supreme Being, there is nothing excellent but what 

has no existence A secret languor steals through the 

recesses of my heart ; it feels empty and unsatisfied, as you told 
me yours formerly did ; my attachment to whatever is dear to me 
is not sufficient to engage it ; a useless strength is left which it 
knows not what to do with. This pain is extraordinary, I allow, 
but it is not the less real. My friend, I am too happy; I am 
weary of felicity 

"Finding, therefore, nothing here below to satisfy its craving, 
my eager soul elsewhere seeks wherewith to fill itself. Soaring 
aloft to the source of feeling and existence, it there recovers from 
its languor and its apathy. It is there regenerated and revived. 
It there receives new vigor and new life. It acquires a new ex 
istence which is independent of the passions of the body; or 
rather, it is no longer attached to the latter, but is wholly absorbed 
in the immense Being whom it contemplates; and, released for a 
moment from its shackles, it returns to them with the less regret 
after this experience of a more sublime state which it hopes at 
some future period to eujoy 

"When reflecting on all the blessings of Providence I am 
ashamed of taking to heart such petty troubles and forgetting 
euch important favors When, in spite of myself, my 


melancholy pursues me, a few tears shed before Him who can dis 
pense comfort instantly soothe my heart. My reflections are 
never bitter or painful. My repentance itself is devoid of ap 
prehensions. My faults excite in me less fear than shame. I 
am acquainted with regret, but not with remorse. 

" The God whom I serve is a God of clemency, a Father of mer 
cies. What most deeply affects me is his goodness, which, in my 
eyes, eclipses all his other attributes. It is the only one of which 
I have a conception. His power astonishes; his immensity con 
founds; his justice He has made man feeble, and 

he is merciful because he is just. The God of vengeance is the 
God of the wicked I can neither fear him for myself nor in 
voke him against another. Oh, God of peace ! God of goodness ! 
thee I adore! Thy work, full well I know it, I am; and I hope 
at the day of judgment to find thee such as thou speakest in this 
life to my troubled heart." 

How happily are love and religion blended in this picture! 
This style, these sentiments, have no parallel in antiquity. 1 
What folly to reject a religion which dictates to the heart such 
tender accents, and which has added, as it were, new powers to 
the soul ! 

Would you have another example of this new language of the 
passions, unknown under the system of polytheism ? Listen to 
Clementina. Her expressions are still more unaffected, more pa 
thetic, and more sublimely natural, than Julia s : 

" This one thing I have to say but turn your face another way ; 
I find my blushes come already. Why, Chevalier, I did intend 
to say but stay; I have wrote it down somewhere [She pulled 
out her pocket-book] Here it is. [She read :] Let me beseech 
you, sir, I was very earnest, you see, to hate, to despise, to de 
test now don t look this way the unhappy Clementina with all 
your heart; but, for the sake of your immortal soul, let me con 
jure you to be reconciled to our Holy Mother Church ! Will 
you, sir? [following my averted face with her sweet face; for I 
could not look toward her.] Say you will. Tender- hearted man ! 
I always thought you had sensibility. Say you will, not for my 

1 The mixture, however, of metapbjsicaland natural language in this extract 
is not in good taste. The Almighty, the Lord, would be better than source of 
existence, &G. 


sake. I told you that I would content myself to be still despised. 
It shall not be said that you did this for a wife! No, sir; your 
conscience shall have all the merit of it! and, I ll tell you what, 
I will lay me down in peace, [She stood up with a dignity that 
was augmented by her piety;] and I will say, Now do thou, 
beckoning angel I for an angel will be on the other side of the- 
river; the river shall be death, sir, now do thou reach out thy 
divine hand, minister of peace! I will wade through these 
separating waters, and I will bespeak a place for the man who, 
many, many years hence, may fill it! and I will sit next you for 
ever and ever; and this, sir, shall satisfy the poor Clementina, 
who will then be richer than the richest." 1 

Christianity proves a real balm for our wounds, particularly 
at those times when the passions, after furiously raging in our 
bosoms, begin to subside, either from misfortune or from the 
length of their duration. It lulls our woes, it strengthens our 

1 It would have been much to our author s purpose to have expatiated more 
at large upon the works of Richardson, as he has founded the excellence of his 
good characters entirely upon a Christian basis. He h;is exemplified the beau 
tiful ideal of human nature. The characters of Clementina, Sir Charles Grandi- 
son, and Clarissa Harlowe, are the most virtuous, amiable, accomplished, and 
noble that can well be imagined. They are supported with strict propriety. 
are elevatad by uncommon dignity, and charm the reader while they com 
mand his admiration. They show that mankind are truly happy only in pro 
portion as they listen to the dictates of conscience and follow the path of duty. 
Where could Richardson, a bookseller and a printer, immersed in the occupa 
tion of his shop and his press, acquire such a correct acquaintance with high 
life and refined society, such exalted sentiments of religion, honor, love, friend 
ship, and philanthropy, as he has displayed in his works? Where did he ac 
quire such a command over our feelings, such a power "to ope the sacred 
source of sympathetic tears"? 

The best answer to these questions is that he derived these treasures from 
the rich resources of his own mind, from the study of the BIBLE, and a quick 
insight into human nature and human character. He has been justly styled 
"the great master of the human heart," "the Shakspeare of Romance." (H,- 
riasa Harlowe and Sir Charles Grandison are long works, because they are de 
signed to develop the springs of human action, and to give a distinct view of 
the progressive, various, and complex movements of the human mind. Pro 
lixity is made the oretext of the frivolous novel-readers of the present age to 
neglect these invaluable works ; although, if they be weighed in the balance 
of literary justice, they will be found to comprise as much, if not more, 
sterling excellence than half the novels that have been written since their 


wavering resolution, it prevents relapses by combating the dan- 
gerous power of memory in a soul scarcely yet cured. It sheds 
around us peace, fragrance, and light. It restores to us that 
harmony of the spheres which was heard by Pythagoras during 
the silence of his passions. As it promises a recompense for 
every sacrifice, we seem to be giving up nothing for it when we 
are giving up every thing. As it presents, at each successive 
step, a still more lovely object to our desires, it gratifies the na 
tural inconstancy of our hearts. It fills us with the ecstasies of 
a love which is always beginning, and this love is ineffable, be 
cause its mysteries are those of purity and innocence. 




JULIA was brought to a sense of religion by ordinary disap 
pointments. She continued in the world, and, being constrained 
to conceal from it the passion of her heart, she betook "herself in 
secret to God, certain of finding in this indulgent Father a pity 
which her fellow-creatures would have refused her. She delights 
to pour forth her confessions before the Supreme Judge, because 
he alone has the power to absolve her, and perhaps also involun 
tary relic of her weakness ! because it affords her an opportunity 
of calling to mind her love. 

If we find such relief from the communication of our sorrows 
to some superior mind, to some peaceful conscience, which 
strengthens and enables us to share the tranquillity which itself 
enjoys, how soothing must it be to address ourselves on the sub 
ject of our passions to that impassible Being whom our secrets 
cannot disturb, and to complain of our frailty to that Omnipotent 
Deity who can impart to us some of his strength ! We may form 
some conception of the transports of those holy men who, retiring 
to the summits of mountains, placed their whole life at the feet 

ELOISA. 281 

of God, penetrated by means of love into the region of eternity, 
and at length soared to the contemplation of primitive light. 
Julia s end, unknown to herself, approaches; but when she first 
perceives the shadows of the tomb that begin to involve her, a 
ray of divine excellence beams from her eyes. The voice of this 
dying female is soft and plaintive. It is like the last rustling 
of the winds sweeping over the forests, the last murmurs of a 
sea forsaking its shores. 

The accents of Eloisa are stronger. The wife of Abelard, she 
lives and lives for God. 1 Her afflictions have been equally unex 
pected and severe. Cut off from the world and plunged into soli 
tude, she has been ushered suddenly, and with all her fire, into 
the privacy of the cloister. Religion and love at once sway her 
heart. It is rebellious nature seized, while full of energy, by grace, 
and vainly struggling in the embraces of heaven. Give Racine 
to Eloisa for an interpreter, and the picture of her woes will bo 
a thousand times more impressive than that of Dido s misfor 
tunes, from the tragical effect, the place of the scene, and a cer 
tain awfulness which Christianity throws around objects to which 
it communicates its grandeur. 

In these deep solitudes and awful cells, 
Where heavenly pensive contemplation dwells, 
And ever-musing melancholy reigns, 
What means this tumult in a vestal s veins? 
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat? 
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat? 

Yet, yet I love ! 

Ah, wretch ! believed the spouse of God in vain 
Confessed within the slave of love and man. 

1 Abelard, a distinguished dialectician of France in the twelfth century, has 
acquired more renown by his amours with Eloisa than by his subtlety and 
learning. The author calls Eloisa his wife; for, although their intercourse at 
"first was only that of lovers, they were afterward secretly married. This cir 
cumstance, however, did not suffice to appease Eloisa s uncle, who, indignant 
at the seduction of his neice, caused a serious injury to be inflicted upon the 
body of Abelard. The latter, to conceal his disgrace, retired into the monastery 
of St. Denys, and subsequently gathered around him an immense number of 
students. His teaching, however, was infected with various errors, which were 
condemned in his own country and at Home. Abelard repented both of his errors 
and his pleasures before his death, which took place iu 1142. After the dis 
grace of her consort, Eloisa also retired into a convent, where she led a holy life. T. 


Assist rue, heaven ! but whence arose that prayer 

Sprung it from piety, or from despair? 

Even here, where frozen chastity retires, 

Love finds an altar for forbidden fires. 

I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought; 

I mourn the lover, not lament the fault; 

I view my crime, but kindle at the view, 

Repent old pleasures, ancf solicit new; 

Now, turned to heaven, I weep my past offence, 

Now think of thee, and curse my innocence. 

Oh come ! Oh teach me nature to subdue 
Renounce my love, my life, myself, and you; 
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he 
Alone can rival can succeed to thee. 1 

It would be impossible for antiquity to furnish such a scene, 
because it had not such a religion. You may take for your 
heroine a Greek or Roman vestal; but never will you be able to 
produce that conflict between the flesh and the spirit which con 
stitutes all the charm in the situation of Eloisa, and which be 
longs to the Christian doctrine and morality. Recollect that you 
here find united the most impetuous of the passions and a com 
manding religion which never submits to any compromise with 
carnal appetites. Eloisa loves; Eloisa burns; but within the 
convent walls every thing calls upon her to quench her earthly 
fires, and she knows that everlasting torments or endless rewards 
await her fall or her triumph. No accommodation is to be ex 
pected. The creature and the Creator cannot dwell together in 
the same soul. Dido loses only an ungrateful lover. How 
different the anguish that rends the heart of Eloisa! She is 
compelled to choose between God and a faithful lover whom she 
has involved in misfortunes. Neither must she flatter herself 
that she shall be able to devote the smallest portion of her heart 
to Abelard. The God of Sinai is a jealous God a God who in 
sists on being loved in preference who punishes the very shadow 
of a thought, nay, even the dream, that is occupied with any other 
object than himself. 

We shall here take the liberty of remarking an error into 
which Colardeau has fallen, because it is tinctured with the 
spirit of his age, and strongly tends to illustrate the subject 
of which we are treating. His translation of the epistle from 

1 Pope s Eloisa. 

ELOISA. 283 

Eloisa has a philosophic cast, which is far different from the truly 
poetical spirit of Pope. After the passage quoted above, we find 
these lines : 

Dear sisters, guiltless partners of my chains, 

Who know not Eloisa s amorous pains; 

Ye captive doves, within these hallowed walls, 

To none obedient but Religion s calls : 

In whom her feeble virtues only shine, 

Those virtues, now, alas ! no lunger mine: 

Who ne er amid the convent s languors prove 

The almighty empire of tyrannic love; 

Who with a heavenly spouse alone content, 

Love but from habit, not from sentiment; 

How smoothly glide your days, your nights how free 

From all the pangs of sensibility ! 

By storms of passion as unvexed they roll, 

Ah ! with what envy do they fill the soul! 1 

These lines, it is true, are not deficient either in ease or tender 
ness j but they are not to be found in the English poet. Faint 
indeed are the traces of them discoverable in the following 
passage : 

How happy is the blameless vestal s lot, 
The world forgetting, by the world forgot ! 
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, 
Each prayer accepted and each wish resigned ; 
Labor and rest, that equal periods keep; 
Obedient slumbers, that can wake and weep; 
Desires composed, affections ever even, 
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to heaven. 
Grace shines around her with serenest beams, 
And whispering angels prompt her golden dreams; 
For her the unfading rose of Eden blooms, 
And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes ; 
To sounds of heavenly harps she dies away, 
And melts in visions of eternal day. 2 

It is difficult to conceive how a poet could have prevailed upon 
himself to substitute a wretched commonplace on monastic lan 
guors for this exquisite description. Who is so blind as not to 
see how beautiful, how dramatic, is the contrast which Pope in 
tended to produce between the pains of Eloisa s love and the 
serenity and chastity of a religious life ? Who is so dull as not 

1 Translation of F. Shoberl. 2 Pope s Eloisa. 


to perceive how sweetly this transition soothes the soul agitated 
by the passions, and what heightened interest it afterward gives 
to the renewed operations of these same passions? Whatever 
may be the value of philosophy, it certainly does not become it 
to act a part in the troubles of the heart, because its object should 
be to appease them. Eloisa, philosophizing on the feeble virtues 
of religion, neither speaks the language of truth nor of her age, 
neither of a woman nor of love We here discover nothing but 
the poet, and, what is still worse, the era of sophistry and decla 

Thus it is that the spirit of irreligion invariably subverts truth 
and spoils the movements of nature. Pope, who lived in better 
times, has not fallen into the same error as Colardeau. 1 He 
retained the worthy spirit of the age of Louis XIV., of which the 
age of Queen Anne was a kind of prolongation or reflection. We 
must go back to religious ideas, if we attach any value to works 
of genius; religion is the genuine philosophy of the fine arts, 
because, unlike human wisdom, it separates not poetry from 
morality or tenderness from virtue. 

On the subject of Eloisa many other interesting observations 
might be made in regard to the solitary convent in which the 
scene is laid. The cloisters, the vaults, the tombs, the austere 
manners, contrasted with all the circumstances of love, must 
augment its force and heighten its melancholy. What a vast 
difference between the Queen of Carthage seeking a speedy death 
on the funeral pile, and Eloisa slowly consuming herself on the 
altar of religion ! But we shall speak at length on the subject 
of convents in another part of our work. 

1 Pope, moreover, being a Catholic, could not have drawn the false picture 
ol conventual life which fell from the pen of the infidel Colardeau. T. 




The Cyclop and Galatea of Theocritus. 

As a subject of comparison among the ancients under the 
head of rural love, we shall select the idyl of the Cyclop and 
Galatea. This little poem is one of the master-pieces of Theo 
critus. The Sorceress is superior to it in warmth of passion, hut 
it is less pastoral. 

The Cyclop, seated upon a rock on the coast of Sicily, thus 
gives vent to his pain, while overlooking the billows that roll 
beneath him : 

" Charming Galatea, why dost thou scorn the attentions of a 
lover, thou whose face is fair as the curd pressed by the soft net 
work of rushes ? thou who art more tender than the 

lamb, more lovely than the heifer, fresher than the grape not yet 
softened by the sun s powerful rays ? Thou glidest along these 
shores when sound slumbers enchain me; thou fleest me when I 
am not visited by refreshing sleep; thou fearest me as the lamb 
fears the wolf grown gray with years. Never have I ceased to 
adore thee since thou earnest with my mother to pluck the young 
hyacinths on the mountains: it was I who guided thy steps. 
From that day even to the present moment I find it impossible 
to live without thee. And yet, dost thou heed my pains ? In 
the name of Jupiter, hast thou any feeling for my anguish ? . . . 
But, unsightly as I am, I have a thousand ewes whose rich udders 
my hand presses and whose foaming milk is my beverage. Sum 
mer, autumn, and winter, always find cheeses in my cavern; my 
nets are always full of them. No Cyclop could play so well to 
thee upon the pastoral reed as I can, lovely maiden ! None 
could with such skill celebrate all thy charms during the storms 
of night. For thee I am rearing eleven does which are ready 
to drop their fawns. I am also bringing up four bears cubs 


stolen from their savage mothers. Come, and all these riches 
shall be thine. Let the sea furiously lash its shores ; thy nights 
shall be more happy if thou wilt pass them in my cave by my 
side. Laurels and tall cypresses murmur there; the dark ivy 
and the vine laden with clusters line its dusky sides; close to it 
runs a limpid stream which white JFAna discharges from his 
snow-clad summits and down his sides covered with brown forests. 
What! wouldst thou still prefer the sea and its thousands of 
billows? If my hairy bosom offends thy sight, I have oak wood 
and live embers remaining beneath the ashes; burn, for any 
thing from thy hand will give me pleasure, burn, if thou wilt, 
mine only eye, this eye, which is dearer to me than life itself 
Ah ! why did not my mother give to me, as to the fish, light oars 
wherewith to cleave the liquid waves ! 1 how I would theo 
descend to my Galatea ! how I would kiss her hand if she refused 
me her lips! Yes, I would bring the white lilies, or tender 
poppies with purple leaves; the first grow in summer, and the 
others adorn the winter, so that I could not present them both to 

thee at once 

" In this manner did Polyphemus apply to his wounded heart 
the immortal balm of the Muses, thus soothing the sorrows of 
life more sweetly than he could have done by any thing that gold 
can purchase." 

This idyl breathes the fire of passion. The poet could not 
have made choice of words more delicate or more harmonious. 
The Doric dialect also gives to his verses a tone of simplicity 
which cannot be transfused into our language. The frequent 
repetition of the first letter of the alphabet, and a broad and 
open pronunciation, seem to represent the tranquillity of the 
scenes and the unaffected language of the shepherd. The 
naturalness of the Cyclop s lament is also remarkable. He speaks 
from the heart; yet no one would suspect for a moment that his 
sighs are any thing else than the skilful imitation of a poet. With 
what simplicity and warmth does the unhappy lover depict his 
own ugliness ! Even that eye, which renders him so offensive, 
suggests to Theocritus an affecting idea: so true is the remark 
of iristotle, conveyed by Boileau in these lines : 

D un pinceau d^licat I artifiee agreable 

Du plus affreux objet fait un objet aimable. 


It is well known that the moderns, and the French in par 
ticular, have riot been very successful in pastoral composition. 1 
We are of opinion, however, that Bernardin de Saint- Pierre has 
surpassed the bucolic writers of Italy and Greece. His novel, 01 
rather his poem, of Paul and Virginia, belongs to the small 
number of works which in a few years acquire an antiquity that 
authorizes us to quote them without being afraid of having our 
taste called in question. 



Paul and Virginia. 

THE old man seated on the mountain relates the history of the 
two exiled families; he gives an account of their labors, their 
loves, their sports, and their cares. 

"Paul and Virginia had neither clocks nor almanacs, neither 
books of chronology, history, nor philosophy. The periods of 
their lives were regulated by those of nature. They knew the 
hours of the day by the shadow of the trees ; the seasons by the 
times when they produce their flowers or their fruits ; and the 
years by the number of their harvests. These pleasing images 
imparted the greatest charms to their conversation. < Tis din 
ner-time/ said Virginia to the family : l the shadows of the 
bananas are at their feet; or, night approaches: the tamarind- 
trees are shutting up their leaves/ l When will you come to see 
us? asked some young friends who lived not far off. In 
cane-time, replied Virginia. When any person inquired her 

1 The Revolution deprived us of a man who gave promise of first-rate talents 
in the eclogue; we allude to Andre Chenier. We have seen a collection of 
manuscript idyls by him, in which there are passages worthy of Theocritus. 
This explains the expression used by that unfortunate young man when upon 
ehe scaffold. "Die!" exclaimed he, striking his forehead; "and yet I had 
something here !" It was the Muse revealing his talents to him at the moment 
of death. See note P. 


age, or that of Paul, she would answer, My brother is as old 
as the great cocoa-tree beside the fountain, and I am as old as 
the smaller; the mangoes have borne fruit twelve times, and the 
orange-trees have flowered twice as often, since I was born. 
Their lives seemed to be attached to those of the trees, like the 
existence of the fauns and dryads. They knew no other his 
torical epochs than those of their mothers lives, no other chro 
nology than that of the orchards, and no other philosophy than 
that of doing good to everybody, and of resignation to the will 
of the Almighty 

11 Sometimes, when alone with Virginia, Paul said to her on 
his return from work, When I am fatigued, the sight of you 
refreshes me; and when from the top of the hill I look down 
into this valley, you look just like a rose-bud in the midst of our 
orchards. . . . Though I lose sight of you among the trees, still 
I discern something of you which I .cannot describe in the air 
through which you pass or on the turf upon which you have 
been sitting 

" Tell me by what spell you have enchanted me. It cannot 
be by your understanding, for our mothers have more than we. 
Neither is it by your caresses, for they kiss me much oftener than 
you. I suppose it must be by your kindness. Here, my beloved, 
take this citron branch covered with blossom, which I broke in 
the forest. Place it at night beside your bed. Eat this honey 
comb, which I climbed to the top of a rock to take for you ; but 
fii&t sit down on my knee, and I shall be refreshed/ 

" Oh my brother! Virginia would reply, the beams of the 
morning sun that gild the summits of these rocks give me less 

joy than your presence You ask why you love me. 

Have not all those creatures that are brought up together a mu 
tual affection for each other ? Look at our birds, reared in the 
same nests ; they love like us, and, like us, they are always to 
gether. Hear how they call and answer one another from tree to 
tree; just as, when echo wafts to me the notes which you play on 
your flute, I repeat the words at the bottom of this valley. . . . 
... I daily pray to God for my mother and yours, for you and 
for our poor servants ; but when I pronounce your name my fer 
vor seems to increase. How ardently I implore the Almighty 
that no misfortune may befall you ! Why do you go so far and 


climb so high in quest of fruits and flowers for Dae ? Have we 
not plenty in the garden ? How you have fatigued yourself ! 
You are bathed in sweat ! With these words she wiped his 
forehead and his cheeks with her little white handkerchief, and 
gave him several kisses." 

The point to be examined in this picture is not why it is supe 
rior to that of Galatea, (a superiority too evident not to be ac 
knowledged by every reader,) but why it owes its excellence to 
religion, and, in a word, in what way it is Christian. 

It is certain that the charm of Paul and Virginia consists in a 
sertain pensive morality which pervades the whole work, and 
which may be compared to that uniform radiance which the moon 
throws upon a wilderness bedecked with flowers. Now, whoever 
has meditated upon the truths of the gospel must admit that its 
divine precepts have precisely this solemn and affecting character. 
Saint-Pierre, who, in his Studies of Nature, endeavors to justify 
the ways of God and to demonstrate the beauty of religion, must 
have nourished his genius by the perusal of the sacred volume. 
If his eclogue is so pathetic, it is because it represents two little 
exiled Christian families, living under the eye of the Lord, guided 
by his word in the Bible and his works in the desert. To this 
add indigence and those afflictions of the soul for which religion 
affords the only remedy, and you will have the whole of the sub 
ject. The characters are as simple as the plot : they are two 
charming children, whose cradle and whose grave are brought under 
your notice, two faithful slaves, and two pious mistresses. These 
good people have a historian every way worthy of their lives : an 
old man residing alone upon the mountain, and who has survived 
all that he loved, relates to the traveller the misfortunes of hi,s 
friends over the ruins of their cottages. 

We may observe that these Southern bucolics are full of allu 
sions to the Scriptures. In one, we are reminded of Ruth, of 
Sephora ; in another, of Eden and our first parents. These sacred 
recollections throw an air of antiquity over the scenes of the 
whole picture, by introducing into it the manners of the primitive 
East. The mass, the prayers, the sacraments, the ceremonies of 
the Church, to which the author is every moment referring, like 
wise shed their spiritual beauty over the work. Is not the mys 
terious dream of Madame de la Tour essentially connected with 


what is grand and pathetic in our religious doctrines ? We also 
discover the Christian in those lessons of resignation to the will 
of God, of obedience to parents, charity to the poor, strictness in 
tLe performance of the duties of religion, in a word, in the 
whole of that delightful theology which pervades the poem cf 
Saint-Pierre. We may even go still farther, and assert that it is 
religion, in fact, which determines the catastrophe. Virginia 
dies for the preservation of one of the principal virtues enjoined 
by Christianity. It would have been absurd to make a Grecian 
woman die for refusing to expose her person ; but the lover of 
Paul is a Christian virgin, and what would be ridiculous accord 
ing to the impure notions of heathenism becomes in this instance 

This pastoral is not like the idyls of Theocritus, or the eclogues 
of Virgil ; neither does it exactly resemble the grand rural scenes 
of Hesiod, Homer, and the Bible ; but, like the parable of the 
Good Shepherd, it produces an ineffable effect, and you are con 
vinced that none but a Christian could have related the evan 
gelical loves of Paul and Virginia. 

It will perhaps be objected that it is not the charm borrowed 
from the sacred Scriptures which confers on Saint-Pierre the 
superiority over Theocritus, but his talent for delineating nature. 
To this we reply that he owes this talent also, or at least the de 
velopment of this talent, to Christianity ; since it is this religion 
which has driven the petty divinities from the forests and the 
waters, and has thus enabled him to represent the deserts in all 
their majesty. This we shall attempt to demonstrate when we 
come to treat of mythology j let us now proceed with the investi 
gation of the passions. 




NOT satisfied with enlarging the sphere of the passions in the 
drama and the epic poem, the Christian religion is itself a species 
of passion, which has its transports, its ardors, its sighs, its joys, 
its tears, its love of society and of solitude. This, as we know, 
is by the present age denominated fanaticism. We might reply 
in the words of Rousseau, which are truly remarkable in the 
mouth of a philosopher : " Fanaticism, though sanguinary and 
cruel, 1 is nevertheless a great and powerful passion, which exalts 
the heart of man, which inspires him with a contempt of death, 
which gives him prodigious energy, and which only requires to 
be judiciously directed in order to produce the most sublime vir 
tues. On the other hand, irreligion, and a reasoning and philo 
sophic spirit in general, strengthens the attachment to life, debases 
the soul and renders it effeminate, concentrates all the passions in 
the meanness of private interest, in the abject motive of self, and 
thus silently saps the real foundations of all society ; for so trifling 
are the points in which private interests are united, that they will 
never counterbalance those in which they oppose one another."* 

But this is not the question ; we treat at present only of dra 
matic eifect. Now, Christianity considered itself as a passion 
supplies the poet with immense treasures. This religious passion 
is the stronger as it is in contradiction to all others, and must 
swallow them up to exist itself. Like all the great affections, 
it is profoundly serious ; it attracts us to the shade of convents 
and of mountains. The beauty which the Christian adores is not 
perishable ; it is that eternal beauty for which Plato s disciples 
were so anxious to quit the earth. Here below she always ap 
pears veiled to her lovers ; she shrouds herself in the folds of the 
universe as in a mantle ; for if but one of her glances were to 
meet the eye and pierce the heart of man, unable to endure it he 
would expire with transport. 

i Is Philosophy less so ? 2 Emilc, tome iii. p. 193, note. 


To attain the enjoyment of this supreme beauty, Christians 
take a very different course from that which the Athenian philo 
sophers pursued ; they remain in this world in order to multiply 
their sacrifices, and to render themselves more worthy, by a long 
purification, of the object of their desires. 

Whoever, according to the expression of the Fathers, have the 
least possible commerce with the flesh, and descend in innocence 
to the grave, such souls, relieved from doubts and fears, wing 
their flight to the regions of life, where in never-ending trans 
ports they contemplate that which is true, immutable, and above 
the reach of opinion. How many glorious martyrs has this hope 
of possessing God produced ! What solitude has not heard the 
sighs of illustrious rivals contending for the enjoyment of Him 
who is adored by the cherubim and seraphim ? Here an Anthony 
erects an altar in the desert, and for the space of forty years sacri 
fices himself, unknown to all mankind ; there a St. Jerome for 
sakes Home, crosses the seas, and, like Elias, seeks a retreat on 
the banks of the Jordan. Even there hell leaves him not un 
molested, and the attractive figure of Rome, decked with all her 
charms, appears in the forests to torment him. He sustains 
dreadful assaults; he fights hand-to-hand with his passions. His 
weapons are tears, fasting, study, penance, and, above all, love. 
He falls at the feet of the divine beauty, and implores its succor. 
Sometimes, like a criminal doomed to the most laborious toils, he 
loads his shoulders with a burden of scorching sand, to subdue 
the rebellious flesh, and to extinguish the unholy desires which 
address themselves to the creature. 

Massillon, describing this sublime love, exclaims, " To such the 
Lord alone appears good and faithful and true, constant in his 
promises, amiable in his indulgence, magnificent in his gifts, real 
in his tenderness, merciful even in his wrath ; he alone appears 
great enough to fill the whole immensity of our hearts, powerful 
enough to satisfy all its desires, generous enough to soothe ail 
its woes ; he alone appears immortal, and worthy of our endless 
affection; finally, he alone excites no regret, except that we 
learned too late to love him." 1 

The author of the Following of Christ has selected from St 

1 La Pecheresse, part i. 


Augustine and the other Fathers whatever is most mystic and 
most ardent in the language of divine love. 1 

"The love of God is generous; it impels the soul to great ac 
tions, and excites in it the desire of that which is most perfect. 

" Love always aspires to a higher sphere, and suffers not itself 
tc be detained by base considerations. 

" Love is determined to be free and independent of all the ter 
restrial affections, lest its inward light should be obscured, and 
it should either be embarrassed with the goods or dejected by 
the ills of the world. 

" There is nothing in heaven or upon earth that is more deli 
cious or more powerful, more exalted or more comprehensive, 
more agreeable, more perfect, or more excellent, than love, because 
love is the offspring of God, and, soaring above all created beings, 
cannot find repose except in God. 

" Those alone who love can comprehend the language of love, 
and those words of fire in which a soul deeply imbued with the 
Deity addresses him when it ejaculates, Thou art my God; 
thou art my love ; thou art completely mine, and I am entirely 
thine ! Extend my heart that I may love thee still more ; and 
teach me by an inward and spiritual taste how delicious it is to 
love thee, to swim, and to be, as it were, absorbed in the ocean 
of thy love/ " 

" He who loves generously/ adds the same author, " stands 
firm amid temptations, and suffers himself not to be surprised by 
the subtle persuasions of his enemy." 

It is this Christian passion, this immense conflict between a 
terrestrial and a celestial love, which Corneille has depicted in 
that celebrated scene of his Polyeuctes, for this great man, less 
delicate than the philosophers of the present day, had no notion 
that Christianity was beneath his genius. 

Pol. If death be noble in a sovereign s cause, 

What must his be who suffers for his God ? 
Paul. What God is that thou speakest of? 
Pol. Ah ! Paulina, 

He hears thy every word. "Tis not a God, 

Deaf and insensible and impotent, 

Of marble, or of wood, or shining gold. 

1 Book iii. ch, 5. 


I mean the Christian s God my God and thine, 
Than whom nor earth nor heaven confess another. 
Paul. Be then content within thy heart s recess 

To adore in silence. 
p l" Why not tell me rather 

To be at once idolater and Christian? 
Paul. Feign but a moment, till Severus absence, 

And give my father s mercy scope to act. 
Pol. My Heavenly Father s mercy ah ! how far 
To be preferred ! He my unconscious steps 
From lurking danger guides. His hand sustains, 
And when but entering on my new career, 
His grace decrees the crown of victory. 
My bark just launched he safely wafts to port, 
And me from baptism s rites to heaven conveys. 
Oh that thou knewest the vanity of life, 
And all the bliss that after death awaits us ! 
God of all mercy, thou hast given to her 
Too many virtues, and too high perfections, 
Which claim her for a Christian, that twere grievou* 
To think her destined to remain estranged 
From thee and from thy love, to live the slave, 
The unhappy slave, of thine arch-enemy, 
And die, as born, beneath his odious yoke! 
Paul. What wish escaped thy too presumptuous tongue? 
Pol. One whose fulfilment gladly would I purchase 
With every purple drop that fills these veins. 

Paul. Sooner shall 

PoL Hold, Paulina : tis in vain 

To struggle gainst conviction. Unawares 
The God of Christians melts the obdurate heart; 
The happy moment, though not yet arrived, 
Will come, but when, is not to me revealed. 
Paul. Give up such idle fancies, and assure 

Me of thy love. 
p l" Ah! doubt me not, Paulina; 

I love thee more than life, nay, more than aught 
In heaven or earth, save God. 
Paul - Then, by that love 

Leave me not, I conjure thee ! 
Pol > By that love 

Let me implore thee, do as I have done. 
Paul. What, not content to abandon, wouldst thou too 

Seduce me from my faith ? 

P l - Is t then a hardship 

To go to heaven ? for thither I d conduct thee ! 
Paul. No more of these chimerag ! 
P l - Sacred truths ! 

PauL Infatuation J 


Pol No; celestial light. 

Paul. Thou choosest death before Paulina s love. 

Pol. Attacned to earth, thou spurnest grace divine. 

Such are those admirable dialogues in Corneille s mannei r , in 
which the sincerity of the speakers, the rapidity of the transi 
tions, the warmth and elevation of the sentiments, never fail to 
delight the audience. How sublime is Polyeuctes in this scene ! 
what greatness of soul, what dignity, what divine enthusiasm he 
displays ! The gravity and nobleness of the Christian character 
appear, even in the opposition of the plural and singular pro 
nouns volts and tu, the mere use of which in this way places a 
whole world between the martyr Polyeuctes and the pagan 

Finally, Corneille has exhibited all the energy of the Christian 
passion in that dialogue which, to use Voltaire s expression, is 
"admirable, and always received with applause." 

Felix proposes to Polyeuctes to sacrifice to his false gods ; but 
Polyeuctes refuses to comply; 

FeL At length to my just wrath my clemency 

Gives place. Adore, or yield thy forfeit life. 

Pol. I am a Christian. 

Pel. Impious wretch ! adore, 

Or death shall be thy doom. 

Pol. I am a Christian. 

FeL Oh bosom most obdurate ! Soldiers, haste 
And execute the orders I have issued. 

Paul. Ah ! whither lead ye him ? 

Fel. To death. 

Pol. To glory. 2 

Those words I am a Christian twice repeated are equal to 
the most exalted expression of the Horaces. Corneille, who was 
so excellent a judge of the sublime, well knew to what a height 
the love of religion is capable of rising ; for the Christian loves 
God as the supreme beauty, and heaven as his native land. 

But, on the other hand, could polytheism ever inspire an 
idolater with anything of the enthusiasm of Polyeuctes ? What 
could be the object of his passionate love ? Would he submit to 
death for some lewd goddess or for a cruel and unfeeling god ? 
The religions which are capable of exciting any ardor are those 

1 Act iv. scene iii. 2 Act v. scene iii. 


which approach more or less to the doctrine of the unity of n 
Grod ; otherwise, the heart and mind, being divided among a mul 
titude of divinities, cannot be strongly attached to any. No love, 
moreover, can le durable that has not virtue for its object. Truth 
will ever be the predominant passion of man j if he loves error, 
it is because at the time he considers error as truth. We have 
no affection for falsehood, though we are continually falling into 
it; but this weakness proceeds from our original depravity; we 
have lost strength while retaining desire, and our hearts still seek 
the light which our eyes are now too feeble to endure. 

The Christian religion, in again opening to us, by the merits 
of the Son of Man, those luminous paths which death had 
covered with its shades, has recalled to us our primitive loves. 
Heir of the benedictions of Jacob, the Christian burns to enter 
that celestial Sion to which are directed all his sighs. This is the 
passion which our poets may celebrate, after the example of Cor- 
neille. It is a source of beauty which was wholly unknown to 
antiquity, and which Sophocles and Euripides would not have 



WE have yet to treat of a state of the soul which, as we think, 
has not been accurately described ; we mean that which precedes 
the development of the strong passions, when all the faculties, 
fresh, active, and entire, but confined in the breast, act only upon 
themselves, without object and without end. The more nations 
advance in civilization, the more this unsettled state of the pas 
sions predominates ; for then the many examples we have before 
us, and the multitude of books we possess, give us knowledge 
without experience ; we are undeceived before we have enjoyed ; 
there still remain desires, but no illusions. Our imagination is 
rich, abundant, and full of wonders; but our existence is poor, 
insipid, and destitute of charms. With a full heart, we dwell in 
an empty world, and scarcely have we advanced a few steps when 
we have nothing more to learn. 


It is inconceivable what a shade this state of the soul throws 
over life ; the heart turns a hundred different ways to employ the 
energies which it feels to be useless to it. The ancients knew 
(jut little of this secret inquietude, this irritation of the stifled 
passions fermenting all together; political affairs, the sports of 
the Gymnasium and of the Campus Martius, the business of the 
forum and of the popular assemblies, engaged all their time, and 
left no room for this tedium of the heart. 

On the other hand, they were not disposed to exaggerations, to 
hopes and fears without object, to versatility in ideas and senti 
ments, and to perpetual inconstancy, which is but a continual 
disgust, dispositions which we acquire in the familiar society of 
the fair sex. Women, independently of the direct passion which 
they excite among all modern nations, also possess an influence 
over the other sentiments. They have in their nature a certain 
ease which they communicate to ours ; they render the marks of 
the masculine character less distinct; and our passions, softened 
by the mixture of theirs, assume, at one and the same time, some 
thing uncertain and delicate. 

Finally, the Greeks and Romans, looking scarcely any farther 
than the present life, and having no conception of pleasures more 
perfect than those which this world aifords, were not disposed, 
like us, by the character of their religion, to meditation and 
desire. Formed for the relief of our afflictions and our wants, 
the Christian religion incessantly exhibits to our view the twofold 
picture of terrestrial griefs and heavenly joys, and thus creates in 
the heart a source of present evils and distant hopes, whence 
spring inexhaustible abstractions and meditations. The Christian 
always looks upon himself as no more than a pilgrim travelling 
here below through a vale of tears and finding no repose till he 
reaches the tomb. The world is not the object of his affections, 
for he knows that the days of man are few, and that this object 
would speedily escape from his grasp. 

The persecutions which the first believers underwent had the 
effect of strengthening in them this disgust of the things of this 
life. The invasion of the barbarians raised this feeling to the 
highest pitch, and the human mind received from it an impres 
sion of melancholy, and, perhaps, even a slight tincture of mis 
anthropy, which has never been thoroughly removed. On all 


sides arose convents; hither retired the unfortunate, smarting 
under the disappointments of the world, or souls who chose rather 
to remain strangers to certain sentiments of life than to run the 
risk of finding themselves cruelly deceived. 1 But, nowaday, 
when these ardent souls have no monastery to enter, or have not 
the virtue that would lead them to one, they feel like strangers 
among men. Disgusted with the age, alarmed by religion, they 
remain in the world without mingling in its pursuits ; and then 
we behold that culpable sadness which springs up in the midst 
of the passions, when these passions, without object, burn them 
selves out in a solitary heart. 

1 Though the author does not assert in this passage that misanthropy had 
any part in the introduction of the monastic institute, or is compatible with its 
essential spirit, this meaning might be inferred by the reader who would not 
attend particularly to the language which he employs. He wishes to convey 
the idea that the conventual life, by removing the occasions of sin and fixing 
the mind and heart upon God alone, afforded the remedy of that morbid condi 
tion of the soul which follows from misanthropy and a natural aversion for the 
world. These sentiments are transformed by the religious or monastic spirit 
into sentiments of charity and self-denial. It is well known that the introduc 
tion of the religious orders was the inauguration of a new era in the history 
of Christian charity, as it opened immense additional resources for the allevia 
tion of almost every species of human misery. The monastic spirit, moreover* 
was founded essentially on the love of God, as the only end of man. But the 
love of God and the love of the neighbor go hand-in-hand. Misanthropy, 
therefore, is a sentiment, both historically and intrinsically, opposed to the 
spirit of the monastic state. That a tinge of melancholy in regard to earthly 
things should pervade the religious and even the ordinary Christian life, is in 
accordance with the gospel itself, since it teaches us to look upon ourselves as 
exiles in this world, and beatifies those who yield to the spiritual sainesa 
which this consideration inspires. "Blessed are they that mourn, lyr they 
shall be comforted." T. 





WE have already shown in the preceding books that Chris 
tianity, by mingling with the affections of the soul, has increased 
the resources of the drama. Polytheism did not concern itself 
about the vices and virtues; it was completely divorced from 
morality. In this respect, Christianity has an immense advantage 
over heathenism. But let us see whether, in regard to what is 
termed the marvellous, it be not superior in beauty to mythology 

We are well aware that we have here undertaken to attack one 
of the most inveterate scholastic prejudices. The weight of 
authority is against us, and many lines might be quoted from 
Racine s poem on the Poetic Art in our condemnation. 

However this may be, it is not impossible to maintain that 
mythology, though so highly extolled, instead of embellishing 
nature destroys her real charms ; and we believe that several emi 
nent characters in the literary world are at present of this opinion. 

The first and greatest imperfection of mythology was that it 
circumscribed the limits of nature and banished truth from her 
domain. An incontestable proof of this fact is that the poetry 
which we term descriptive was unknown throughout all antiquity; 1 
so that the very poets who celebrated the works of nature did not 
enter into the descriptive in the sense which we attach to the 
word. They have certainly left us admirable delineations of the 

1 See note Q. 



employments, the manners, and the pleasures, of rural life; but 
as to those pictures of scenery, of the seasons, and of the varia 
tions of the sky and weather, which have enriched the modern 
Muse, scarcely any traits of this kind are to be found in their 

The few that they contain are indeed excellent, like the rest 
of their works. Homer, when describing the cavern of the 
Cyclop, docs not line it with lilacs and roses; like Theocritus, 
he has planted laurels and tall pines before it. He embellishes 
the gardens of Alcinous with flowing fountains and useful trees; 
in another place he mentions the hill assaulted by the winds and 
covered with fiy-trees, and he represents the smoke of Circe s 
palace ascending above a forest of oaks. 

Virgil has introduced the same truth into his delineations. 
He gives to the pine the epithet of harmonious, because the pine 
actually sends forth a kind of soft murmur when gently agitated; 
the clouds in the Greorgics are compared to fleeces of wool rolled 
together by the winds; and the swallows in the ^Eneid twitter 
on the thatched roof of king Evander or skim the porticoes of 
palaces. Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid, have also left 
some sketches of this nature; but they consist of nothing more 
than a favorite grove of Morpheus, a valley into which the 
Cytherean goddess is about to descend, or a fountain where 
Bacchus reposes in the lap of the Naiads. 

The philosophic age of antiquity produced no alteration in this 
manner. Olympus, whose existence was no longer believed, now 
sought refuge among the poets, who in their turn protected the 
gods that had once protected them. Statius and Silius Italicus 
advanced no further than Homer and Virgil; Lucan alone made 
some progress in this species of composition, and in his Pharsalia 
we find the description of a forest and a desert, which remind ua 
of the colors of modern artists. 1 

Lastly, the naturalists were as sober as the poets, and followed 
nearly the same road. Thus Pliny and Columella, who came 
the last, take more pains to describe nature than Aristotle. 
Among the historians and the philosophers, Xenophon, Plato, 

1 This description is full of bombast and bad taste; though we have nothing 
to do here with the execution of the piece, but with the class to which it belongs. 


Tacitus, Plutarch, and Pliny the younger, are remarkable foi 
gome beautiful pictures * 

It can scarcely be supposed that men endued with such sensi 
bility as the ancients, could have wanted eyes to perceive the 
charms of nature and talents for depicting them, had they not 
been blinded by some powerful cause. Now, this cause was their 
established mythology, which, peopling the universe with elegant 
phantoms, banished from the creation its solemnity, its grandeur, 
and its solitude. It was necessary that Christianity should expel 
the whole hosts of fauns, of satyrs, and of nymphs, to restore to 
the grottos their silence and to the woods their scope for unin 
terrupted contemplation. Under our religion the deserts have 
assumed a character more pensive, more vague, and more sub 
lime; the forests have attained a loftier pitch; the rivers have 
broken their petty urns, that in future they may only pour the 
waters of the abyss from the summit of the mountains; and the 
true God, in returning to his works, has imparted his immensity 
to nature. 

The prospect of the universe could not excite in the bosoms 
of the Greeks and Romans those emotions which it produces in 
our souls. Instead of that setting sun, whose lengthened rays 
sometimes light up the forest, at others form a golden tangent 
on the rolling arch of the seas, instead of those beautiful acci 
dents of light which every morning remind us of the miracle 
of the creation, the ancients beheld around them naught but 
a uniform system, which reminds us of the machinery of an 

If the poet wandered in the vales of the Taygetus, on the banks 
of the Sperchius, on the Msenalus, beloved of Orpheus, or in the 
plains of the Elorus, whatever may have been the charm of this 
Grecian geography, he met with nothing but fauns, he heard no 
sounds but those of the dryads. Apollo and the Muses were 
there, and Vertumnus with the Zephyrs led eternal dances. Syl- 
vans and Naiads may strike the imagination in an agreeable 

1 See in Xenopbon the Retreat of the Ten Thousand, and the Treatise on 
Hunting; in Plato, the exordium of the Dialogue on the Laws; in Tacitus, the 
description of the forsaken camp, where Varus was massacred with his legions, 
(Annul., lib. i. ;) in Plutarch, the-lives of Brutus and of Pompey ; in Pliny, the 
descriptio of his gar Ion. 


manner, provided they be not incessantly brought forward. We 
would not 

Expel the Tritons from the watery waste, 

Destroy Pan s pipe, snatch from the Fates their shears. 

But then what impression does all this leave on the soul ? 
What results from it for the heart ? What moral benefit can the 
mind thence derive ? Oh, how far more highly is the Christian 
poet favored ! Free from that multitude of absurd deities which 
circumscribed them on all sides, the woods are filled with the 
immensity of the Divinity; and the gift of prophecy and wisdom, 
mystery mid religion, seem to have fixed their eternal abode 
in their awful recesses. 

Penetrate into those forests of America coeval with the world. 
What profound silence pervades these retreats when the winds 
are hushed ! What unknown voices when they begin to rise ! 
Stand still, and every thing is mute ; take but a step, and all 
nature sighs. Night approaches : the shades thicken ; you heai 
herds of wild beasts passing in the dark ; the ground murmurs 
under your feet; the pealing thunder roars in the deserts; the 
forest bows ; the trees fall ; an unknown river rolls before you. 
The moon at length bursts forth in the east; as you proceed at 
the foot of the trees, she seems to move before you at their tops, 
and solemnly to accompany your steps. The wanderer seats him 
self on the trunk of an oak to await the return of day ; he looks 
alternately at the nocturnal luminary, the darkness, and the 
river : he feels restless, agitated, and in expectation of some 
thing extraordinary. A pleasure never felt before, an unusual 
fear, cause his heart to throb, as if he were about to be admitted 
to some secret of the Divinity ; he is alone in the depth of the for 
ests, but the mind of man is equal to the expanse of nature, and all 
the solitudes of the earth are less vast than one single thought of 
his heart. Even did he reject the idea of a Deity, the intellectual 
being, alone and unbeheld, would be more august in the midst 
of a solitary world than if surrounded by the ridiculous divinities 
of fabulous times. The barren desert itself would have some con 
geniality with his discursive thoughts, his melancholy feelings, and 
even his disgust for a life equally devoid of illusion and of hope. 

There is in man an instinctive melancholy, which makes him 
harmonize with the scenery of nature. Who has not spent whole 


hours seated on the bank of a river contemplating its passing 
waves? Who has not found pleasure on the sea-shore in viewing 
the distant rock whitened by the billows ? How much are the 
ancients to be pitied, who discovered in the ocean naught but the 
palace of Neptune and the cavern of Proteus ! It was hard that 
they should perceive only the adventures of the Tritons and the 
Nereids in the immensity of the seas, which seems to give an in 
distinct measure of the greatness of our souls, and which excites 
a vague desire to quit this life, that we may embrace all nature 
and taste the fulness of joy in the presence of its Author. 



METHINKS I hear some one ask, do you find nothing beautiful 
in the allegories of the ancients ? We must make a distinction. 

The moral allegory, like that of the prayers in Homer, is 
beautiful in all ages, in all countries, in all religions ; nor has it 
been banished by Christianity. We may, as much as we will, 
place at the foot of the throne of the Supreme Judge the two 
vessels filled with good and evil; we shall possess this advantage, 
that our God will never act unjustly or at random, like Jupiter; 
he will pour the floods of adversity upon the heads of mortals, not 
out of caprice, but for a purpose known to himself alone. We 
are aware that our happiness here below is co-ordinate with a 
general happiness in a chain of beings and of worlds that are con 
cealed from our sight; that man, in harmony with the spheres, 
keeps pace with them in their progress to accomplish a revolu 
tion which God envelops in his eternity. 

But if the moral allegory still continues to exist for us, this 
is not the case with the physical allegory. Let Juno be the air, 
and Jupiter the ether, and thus, while brother and sister, still 
remain husband and wife, where is the charm, where is the 
grandeur, of this personification ? Nay, more, this species of alle 
gory is contrary to the principles of taste and even of soun 1 logic. 


We ought never to personify a being itself, but only a quality 
or affection of that being; otherwise there is not a real personifi 
cation, but merely a change in the name of the object. I may 
give speech to a stone; but what shall I gain by assigning to this 
stone an allegorical name? Now the soul, whose nature is life, 
essentially possesses the faculty of producing; so that one of her 
vices, one of her virtues, may be considered as her son, or as her 
daughter, since she has actually given birth to it. This passion, 
active as its parent, may, in its turn grown up, develop itself, 
acquire features, and become a distinct being. But the physical 
object a being purely passive by its very nature, which is not 
susceptible either of pleasure or of pain, which has no passions, 
but merely accidents, and accidents as inanimate as itself affords 
nothing to which you can impart life. Would you transform the 
obduracy of the flint or the sap of the oak into an allegorical 
being? It should be observed that the understanding is less 
shocked by the creation of dryads, naiads, zephyrs, and echoes, 
than by that of nymphs attached to mute and motionless objects; 
for in trees, water, and the air, there are motions and sounds 
which convey the idea of life, and which may consequently fur 
nish an allegory, like the movement of the soul. But this minor 
species of physical allegory, though not quite so bad as the 
greater, is always of inferior merit, cold and incomplete; it 
resembles at best the fairies of the Arabs and the genii of the 

As to the vague sort of deities placed by the ancients in solitary 
woods and wild situations, they doubtless produced a pleasing 
effect, but they had no kind of connection with the mythological 
system : the human mind here fell back into natural religion. 
What the trembling traveller adored as he passed through these 
solitudes was something unknown, something with whose narae 
he was not acquainted, and which he called the divinity of the 
place; sometimes he gave it the name of Pan, and Pan was the 
universal God. These powerful emotions, excited by wild na 
ture, have not ceased to exist, and the forests still retain for us 
their awful divinity. 

In short, it is so true that the physical allegory, or the deities 
of fable, destroyed the charms of nature, that the ancients had no 
genuine landscape painters for the same reason that they had no 


descriptive poetry. 1 This species of poetry, however, was more 
or less known among other idolatrous nations, who were strangers 
to the mythologic system ; witness the Sanscrit poems, the tales 
of the Arabs, the Edda of the Scandinavians, the songs of the 
negroes and the savages. 3 But, as the infidel nations have always 
mingled their false religion, and consequently their bad taste, 
with their compositions, it is under the Christian dispensation 
alone that nature has been delineated with truth. 



No sooner had the apostles begun to preach the gospel to the 
world than descriptive poetry made its appearance. All things 
returned to the way of truth, before Him who, in the words of 
St. Augustin, holds the place of truth on earth. Nature ceased 
to speak through the fallacious organ of idols; her ends were 
discovered, and it became known that she was made in the first 
place for God, and in the second for man. She proclaims, in 
fact, only two things: God glorified by his works, and human 
wants supplied. 

This great discovery changed the whole face of the creation. 
From its intellectual part, that is to say, from the divine intelli 
gence which it everywhere displays, the soul received abundance 
of food ; and from its material part the body perceived that every 
thing had been formed for" itself. The vain images attached to 
inanimate beings vanished, and the rocks became much more 
really animated, the oaks pronounced m^re certain oracles, the 
winds and the waves emitted sounds far more impressive, when 
man had discovered in his own heart the life, the oracles, and the 
voice of nature. 

Hitherto solitude had been looked upon as frightful, tut Chris- 

i The facts on which this assertion is grounded are developed in note W, at 
the end of the volume. 2 See note R. 

28* U 


tians found in it a thousand charms. The anchorets extolled the 
beauties of rocks and the delights of contemplation; and this 
was the first stage of descriptive poetry. The religious who 
published the lives of the first fathers of the desert were also 
obliged to describe the retreats in which these illustrious recluses 
had buried their glory. In the works of a Jerome and of an 
Athanasius 1 may still be seen descriptions of nature which prove 
that they were not only capable of observing, but also of exciting 
a love for what they delineated. 

This new species of composition introduced into literature by 
Christianity rapidly gained ground. It insinuated itself even 
into the historic style, as may be remarked in the collection 
known by the name of the Byzantine, and particularly in the 
histories of Procopius. It was in like manner propagated, but in 
a degenerate form, by the Greek novelists of the Lower Empire 
and by some of the Latin poets in the West. 

When Constantinople had passed under the yoke of the Turks, 
a new species of descriptive poetry, composed of the relics of 
Moorish, Greek, and Italian genius, sprang up in Italy. Pe 
trarch, Ariosto, and Tasso, raised it to a high degree of perfec 
tion. But this kind of description is deficient in truth. It 
consists of certain epithets incessantly repeated and always ap 
plied in the same manner. It was impossible to quit the shady 
forest, the cool cavern, or the banks of the limpid stream. No 
thing was to be seen but groves of orange-trees and bowers of 
jessamine and roses. 

Flora returned with her basket, and the eternal Zephyrs failed 
not to attend her; but they found in the woods neither the 
Fauns nor the Naiads, and, had they not met with the Fairies 
and the Giants of the Moors, they would have run the risk of 
losing themselves in this immense solitude of Christian nature. 
When the human mind advances a step, every thing must ad 
vance with it ; all nature changes with its lights or its shadows. 
Hence, it would be painful to us now to admit petty divinities 
where we see naught but wide-extended space. Place, if you 
will, the mistress of Tithonus upon a car, and cover her with 
flowers and with dew; nothing will prevent her appearing dis- 

1 Hieron., in Vit. Paul. ; Athan., in Vit. Anton. 


proportionate, while shedding her feeble light through the bound 
less firmament which Christianity has expanded; let her then 
leave the office of enlightening the world to Him by whom it wae 

From Italy this species of descriptive poetry passed into 
France, where it was favorably received by a Ronsard, a Le- 
moine, a Coras, a St. Amand, and the early novelists. But the 
great writers of the age of Louis XI V., disgusted with this 
style of delineation, in which they discovered no marks of truth, 
banished it both from their prose and their poetry ; and it is one 
of the distinguishing characteristics of their works that they ex 
hibit no traces of what we denominate descriptive poetry. 1 

Thus repulsed from France, the rural muse sought refuge in 
England, where Spenser, Milton, and Waller had paved the way 
for her reception. Here she gradually lost her affected manner, 
but she fell into another excess. In describing real nature alone, 
she attempted to delineate every thing, and overloaded her pic 
tures either with objects too trivial or with ridiculous circum 
stances. Thomson himself, in his Winter, so superior to the 
other parts of his poem, has some passages that are very tedious. 
Such was the second epoch of descriptive poetry. 

From England she returned to France, with the works of Pope 
and the bard of the Seasons. Here she had some difficulty in 
gaining admission, being opposed by the ancient Italian style, 
which Dorat and some others had revived; she nevertheless 
triumphed, and for the victory was indebted to Delille and St. 
Lambert. She improved herself under the French muse, sub 
mitted to the rules of taste, and reached the third epoch. 

It must, however, be observed that she had preserved her 
purity, though unknown, in the works of some naturalists of the 
time of Louis XIV., as Tournefort and Dutertre. The latter dis 
plays a lively imagination, added to a tender and pensive genius: 
he even uses the word melancholy, like Lafontaine, in the sense 
in which we at present employ it. Thus the age of Louis XIV. 
was not wholly destitute of genuine descriptive poetry, as we 
might at first be led to imagine; it was only confined to the 

1 Feuelon, Lafontaine, and Chaulieu, must be excepted. Racine the younger, 
the father of this new poetic school, in which Delille has excelled, may also be 
considered as the founder of descriptive poetry in France. 


letters of our missionaries j 1 and here it is that we have studied 
this kind of style, which we consider so new at the present day. 

The admirable passages interspersed in the Bible afford a two 
fold proof that descriptive poetry is among us the offspring of 
Christianity. Job, the Prophets, Ecclesiasticus, and the Psalms y 
in particular, are full of magnificent descriptions. What a mas 
ter-piece of this kind is the one hundred and third psalm ! 

" Bless the Lord, my soul ! Lord, my God, thou art ex 
ceedingly great ! Thou hast appointed darkness, and it is 

night : in it shall all the beasts of the woods go about. The 
young lions roaring after their prey, and seeking their meat from 
God The sun ariseth, and they are gathered together : and they 
shall lie down in their dens. Man shall go forth to his work, and 
to his labor until the evening. How great are thy works, Lord ! 
thou hast made all things in wisdom : the earth is filled with thy 
riches. So is this great sea, which stretcheth wide its arms; 
there are creeping things without number : creatures little and 
great. There the ships shall go. This sea-dragon which thou 
hast formed to play therein." 

Pindar and Horace have fallen far short of this poetry. 

We were, therefore, correct in the observation that to Chris 
tianity St. Pierre owes his talent for delineating the scenery of 
nature ; to Christianity he owes it, because the doctrines of our 
religion, by destroying the divinities of mythology, have re 
stored truth and majesty to the deserts j to Christianity he owes 
it, because he has found in the system of Moses the genuine sys 
tem of nature. 

But here another advantage presents itself to the Christian 
poet. If his religion gives him a solitary nature, he likewise 
may have an inhabited nature. He may, if he choose, place 
angels to take care of the forests and the abysses of the deep, or 
commit to their charge the luminaries and spheres of heaven. 
This leads us to the consideration of the supernatural beings, or 
the marvellous, of Christianity. 

1 The reader will ee some fine examples of this when we come to treat of 
the Missions. 




"WE admit/ impartial persons may say, " that, in regard to 
men, Christianity has furnished a department of the drama which 
was unknown to mythology, and that it has likewise created the 
genuine descriptive poetry. Here are two advantages which we 
acknowledge, and which may, in some measure, justify your prin 
ciples, and counterbalance the beauties of fable. But now, if you 
are candid, you must allow that the divinities of paganism, when 
they act directly and for themselves, are more poetic and more 
dramatic than the Christian divinities." 

At first sight, we might be inclined to this opinion. The gods 
of the ancients, sharing our virtues and our vices, having, like 
us, bodies liable to pain and irritable passions, mingling with the 
human race, and leaving here below a mortal posterity, these 
gods are but a species of superior men. Hence we may be led 
to imagine that they furnish poetry with greater resources than 
the incorporeal and impassible divinities of Christianity ; but on 
a closer examination we find this dramatic superiority reduced to 
a mere trifle. 

In the first place, there have always been, in every religion, 
two species of deity, one for the poet and the other for the phi 
losopher. 2 Thus the abstract Being so admirably delineated by 
Tertullian and St. Augustin is not the Jehovah of David or of 
Isaias : both are far superior to the Theos of Plato or the Jupiter 
of Homer. It is not, therefore, strictly true that the poetic divini 
ties of the Christians are wholly destitute of passions. The God 

1 The word divinities here is employed in a wide sense, embracing the inhab 
itants of the spirit-world. T. 

2 That is, in the representation or delineation of the Deity by means of 
human language. T. 


of the Scriptures repents, he is jealous, he loves, he hates, his 
wrath is roused like a whirlwind ; the Son of man takes pity 
on our distresses} the Virgin, the saints, and the angels, arc 
melted by the spectacle of our afflictions, and Paradise, in 
general, is much more deeply interested in behalf of man than 

There are passions, therefore, among our celestial powers, 1 and 
these passions have this great advantage over those of the gods 
of paganism, that they never lead to any idea of depravity and 
vice It is indeed very remarkable that, in depicting the indig 
nation or the sorrow of the Christian heaven, it is impossible to 
destroy the sentiment of tranquillity and joy in the imagination 
of the reader; such is the sanctity and the justice of the God 
that is pointed out by our religion. 

This is not all : for if you positively insist that the God of the 
Christians is an impassible being, still you may have impassioned 
divinities, equally dramatic and equally malignant with those of 
antiquity. In hell are concentrated all the passions of men. To 
us our theological system appears more beautiful, more regular, 
more scientific, than the fabulous doctrine which intermingled 
men, gods, and demons. In our heaven the poet finds perfect 
beings, but yet endued with sensibility and ranged in a brilliant 
hierarchy of love and power ; the abyss confines its gods impas 
sioned and potent in evil, like the gods of mythology ; men hold 
the middle place, men, allied to heaven by their virtues and to 
hell by their vices, men, beloved of the angels, hated by the 
devils, the unfortunate objects of a war that shall never terminate 
but with the world. 

These are powerful agents, and the poet has no reason to com 
plain. As to the actions of the Christian intelligences, it will not 
be a difficult task to prove that they are more vast and more 
mighty than those of the mythological divinities. Can the God 
who governs the spheres, who propels the comets, who creates 
the universe and light, who embraces and comprehends all ages, 
who penetrates into the most secret recesses of the human heart, 
can this God be compared with a deity who rides abroad in a 
car, who lives in a palace of gold on a petty mountain, and who 

1 Or rather, thrv are attributed to them by mankind. 


has not even a clear foresight of the future ? There is not so 
much as the slight advantage arising from visible forms and the 
difference of sex but what our divinities share with those of 
Greece, since the angels in Scripture frequently assume the 
human figure, and the hierarchy of saints is composed of men 
and women. 

But who can prefer a saint whose history sometimes offends 
against elegance and taste, to the graceful Naiad attached to the 
sources of a stream ? It is necessary to separate the terrestrial 
from the celestial life of this saint on earth she was but a wo 
man ; her divinity begins only with her happiness in the regions 
of eternal light. You must, moreover, continue to bear in mind 
that the Naiad was incompatible with descriptive poetry, that a 
stream represented in its natural course is much more pleasing 
than in its allegorical delineation, and that we gain on one hand 
what we seem to lose on the other. 

In regard to battles, whatever has been advanced against Mil 
ton s angels may be retorted upon the gods of Homer. In the one 
case, as in the other, they are divinities for whom we have no 
thing to fear, since they are not liable to death. Mars over 
thrown and covering nine acres with his body, Diana giving 
Venus a blow on the ear, are as ridiculous as an angel cut in two 
and the severed parts uniting again like a serpent. The super 
natural powers may still preside over the engagements of the 
epic ; but, in our opinion, they ought not to interfere except in 
certain cases, which it is the province of taste alone to determine; 
this the superior genius of Virgil suggested to him more than 
eighteen hundred years ago. 

That the Christian divinities, however, have a ridiculous posi 
tion in battle is not a settled point. Satan preparing to engage 
with Michael in the terrestrial paradise is magnificent ; the God 
of Hosts advancing in a dark cloud at the head of his faithful 
legions is not a puny image j the exterminating sword, suddenly 
unsheathed before the rebel angels, strikes with astonishment and 
terror ; the sacred armies of heaven, sapping the foundations of 
Jerusalem, produce as grand an effect as the hostile gods besieg 
ing Priam s palace : finally, there is nothing more sublime in 
Homer than the conflict between Emanuel and the reprobate 
spirits in Milton, when, plunging them into the abyss, the Son of 


man " checked his thunder in mid-volley," lest he should anni- 
hilate them. 

Hell heard the unsufferable noise; hell saw 
Heaven running from heaven, and would have fled 
Affrighted ; but strict fate had cast too deep 
Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound. 



WE are filled with admiration when we consider that the God 
of Jacob is also the God of the gospel ; that the God who hurls 
the thunderbolt is likewise the God of peace and innocence. 

He forms the bud, he swells the ripening fruit, 
And gives the flowers their thousand lovely hues, 

Dispenses sun or rain as best may suit, 
And bids cool night distil refreshing dews. 

We are of opinion that there is no need of proof to demonstrate 
how superior, in a poetical point of view, the God of Christians 
is to the Jupiter of antiquity. At the command of the former, 
rivers roll back to their sources, the heavens are folded like a 
book, the seas are divided, the dead rise from their tombs, and 
plagues are poured forth upon nations. In him the sublime ex 
ists of itself; and you are spared the trouble of seeking it. The 
Jupiter of Homer, shaking the heavens with a nod, is doubtless 
highly majestic; but Jehovah descends into the chaos; he pro 
nounces the words, "Let there be light/ and the fabulous sou 
of Saturn dwindles to nothing. 

When Jupiter would give the other deities an idea of his power, 
he threatens to carry them off by the end of a chain. Jehovah 
needs no chain, nor any thing of the kind. 

What needs his mighty arm our puny aid? 
In vain the monarchs of the earth combined 
Would strive to shake his throne; a single glance 
Dissolves their impious league ; he speaks, and straight 
His foes lomtniugle with their native dust. 


At his dread voice affrighted ocean flees, 
And heaven itself doth tremble. In his sight 
The countless spheres that glow in yon expanse 
Are nothing, and the feeble race of mortals 
As though it ne er had been. 1 

When Achilles prepares to avenge Patroclus, Jupiter announces 
to the immortals that they are at liberty to take part in the con 
flict. All Olympus is immediately convulsed : 

Above, the sire of gods his thunder rolls, 
And peals on peals redoubled rend the poles. 
Beneath, stern Neptune shakes the solid ground; 
The forests wave, the mountains nod around ; 
Through all their summits tremble Ida s woods, 
And from their sources boil her hundred floods. 
Troy s turrets totter on the rocking plain ; 
And the tossed navies beat the heaving main. 
Deep in the dismal regions of the dead 
The infernal monarch reared his horrid head, &c. 2 

This passage has been quoted by all critics as the utmost effort 
of the sublime. The Greek verses are admirable : they present 
successively the thunder of Jupiter, the trident of Neptune, and 
the shriek of Pluto. You imagine that you hear the thunder ^ 
roar reverberating through all the valleys of Ida. 

The sounds of the words which occur in this line are a good 
imitation of the peals of thunder, divided, as it were, by intervals 
of silence, toy, re, wv, re. Thus does the voice of heaven, in a 
tempest, alternately rise and fall in the recesses of the forests. 
A sudden and painful silence, vague and fantastic images, rapidly 
succeed the tumult of the first movements. After Pluto s shriek 
you feel as if you had entered the empire of death the expres 
sions of Homer drop their force and coloring, while a multitude 
of hissings imitate the murmur of the inarticulate voices of the 

Where shall we find a parallel to this ? Has Christian poetry 
the means of equalling such beauties ? Let the reader judge. 
In the following passage the Almighty describes himself : 

" There went up a smoke in his wrath, and a fire flamed from 
his face j coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens and 
came down, and darkness was under his feet. And he ascended 

i Racine s Esther. 2 Pope s Homer, book xx. 75-84. 



apon the cherubim, and he flew upon the wings of the winds 
And he made darkness his covert, his pavilion round about him 
dark waters in the clouds of the air. And the Lord thundered 
from heaven, and the highest gave his voice j hail and coals of 
fire. At the brightness before him the clouds passed, hail and 
coals of fire. And he sent forth his arrows, and he scattered 
them : he multiplied lightnings, and troubled them. Then the 
fountains of waters appeared, and the foundations of the world 
were discovered. At thy rebuke, Lord, at the blast of the 
spirit of thy wrath/ 1 

"It must be admitted," says La Harpe, "that there is as much 
difference between this species of the sublime and any other as 
between the spirit of God and the spirit of man. Here we behold 
the conception of the grand in its principle. The rest is but a 
shadow of it, as created intelligence is but a feeble emanation of 
the Intelligence that creates, as a fiction, however excellent, is 
but a shadow of truth, and derives all its merit from a funda 
mental resemblance." 



THE deities of polytheism, nearly equal in power, shared the 
same antipathies and the same affections. If they happened 
to be opposed to each other, it was only in the quarrels of mor 
tals. They were soon reconciled by drinking nectar together. 

Christianity, on the contrary, by acquainting us with the real 
constitution of supernatural beings, has exhibited to us the em 
pire of virtue eternally separated from that of vice. It has re 
vealed to us spirits of darkness incessantly plotting the ruin of 
mankind, and spirits of light solely intent on the means of saving 
them. Hence arises an eternal conflict, which opens to the imagi 
nation a source of numberless beauties. 

1 Psalm xvii. 


This sublime species of the marvellous furnishes an ther kind 
of an inferior order; that is to say, magic. This last was 
known to the ancients; but among us it has acquired, as a 
poetic machine, higher importance and increased extent. Care 
must, however, be always taken to employ it with discretion, be 
cause it is not in a style sufficiently chaste. It is above all defi 
cient in grandeur; for, borrowing some portion of its power from 
human nature, men communicate to it something of their own in 

A distinguishing feature in our supernatural beings, especially 
in the infernal powers, is the attribution of a character. We 
shall presently see what use Milton has made of the character of 
pride, assigned by Christianity to the prince of darkness. Having, 
moreover, the liberty to assign a wicked spirit to each vice, he 
thus disposes of a host of infernal divinities. Nay, more; he 
then obtains the genuine allegory without having the insipidity 
which accompanies it; as these perverse spirits are, in fact, real 
beings, and such as our religion authorizes us to consider them. 

But, if the demons are as numerous as the crimes of men, they 
may also be coupled with the tremendous incidents of nature. 
Whatever is criminal and irregular in the moral or in the physical 
world is alike within their province. Care must only be taken 
when they are introduced in earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and 
the gloomy recesses of an aged forest, to give these scenes a 
majestic character. The poet should, with exquisite taste, make 
a distinction between the thunder of the Most High and the 
empty noise raised by a perfidious spirit. Let not the lightnings 
be kindled but in the hands of God. Let them never burst from 
the storm excited by the powers of hell. Let the latter be always 
sombre and ominous. Let not its clouds be reddened by wrath 
or propelled by the wind of justice. Let them be pale and livid, 
like those of despair, and be driven by the impure blasts of 
hatred alone. In these storms there should be felt a power 
mighty only in destruction. There should be found that incon 
gruity, that confusion, that kind of energy for evil, which has 
something disproportionate and gigantic, like the chaos whence it 
derives its origin. 




IT is certain that the poets have not availed themselves of all 
the stores with which the marvellous of Christianity is capable of 
supplying the Muses. Philosophers may laugh at the saints and 
angels; but had not the ancients themselves their demi-gods? 
Pythagoras, Plato, Socrates, recommend the worship of those mor 
tals whom they denominate heroes. " Honor the heroes full of 
benignity and intelligence," says the first in his Golden Verses; 
and, that the term heroes may not be mistaken, Hierocles inter 
prets it exactly in the same manner as Christianity explains the 
appellation of saint. " These heroes, full of benignity and intelli 
gence, are always thinking of their Creator, and are resplendent 
with the light reflected by the felicity which they enjoy in him." 
"The term heroes," says he in another place, " comes from a 
Greek word that signifies love, to intimate that, full of love for 
God, the heroes seek only to assist us to pass from this earthly 
state to a divine life, and to become citizens of heaven." 1 The 
fathers of the Church also give to the saints the appellation of 
heroes. In this sense they say that baptism is the priesthood of 
the laity, and that it makes all Christians kings and priests unto 
God ? and heroes assuredly were all those illustrious martyrs 
who, subduing the passions of their hearts and defying the malig 
nity of men, have, by their glorious efforts, deserved a place among 
the celestial powers. Under polytheism sophists sometimes ap 
peared more moral than the religion of their country; but among 
us, never has a philosopher, however extraordinary his wisdom, 
risen higher than Christian morality. While Socrates honored 
the memory of the just, paganism held forth to the veneration of 
the people villains, whose corporeal strength was their only virtue 
and who were polluted with every specie> of crime. If the 
honors of apotheosis were conferred on good kings, had not also 

1 Hierocl., Com. in Pyth. 2 Hieron., Dial. cont. Lvcif., i. ii. p. 136. 


a Tiberius and a Nero their priests and their temples? Holy 
mortals whom the Church of Christ commands us to revere, ye 
were neither the strong nor the mighty among men ! Born, many 
of you, in the cottage of indigence, ye have exhibited to the world 
nothing more than an humble life and obscure misfortunes. Shall 
we never hear aught but blasphemies against a religion which, 
deifying indigence, hardship, simplicity, and virtue, has laid pros 
trate at their feet wealth, prosperity, splendor, and vice ? 

What is there so incompatible with poetry in those anchorets 
of Thebais, with their white staves and their garments of palm- 
leaves? The birds of heaven bring them food; 1 the lions of the 
desert carry their messages 3 or dig their graves. 3 Familiars of 
the angels, they fill with miracles the deserts where Memphis 
once stood, 4 and Horeb and Sinai, Cannel and Lebanon, the brook 
Cedron and the valley of Jehoshaphat, still proclaim the glory of 
the monk and of the hermit of the rock. The Muses love to 
meditate in these antique cloisters, peopled with the shades of 
an Anthony, a Pachomius, a Benedict, and a Basil. The apostles 
preaching the gospel to the first believers in catacombs, or beneath 
the date-tree of the desert, were not, in the eyes of a Michael 
Angelo or a Raphael, subjects so exceedingly unfavorable to 

As we shall recur to the subject in the sequel, we shall at 
present say nothing concerning all those benefactors of mankind 
who founded hospitals and devoted themselves to the miseries of 
poverty, pestilence, and slavery, in order to relieve the afflicted. 
We shall confine ourselves to the Scriptures alone, lest we become 
bewildered in a subject so vast and so interesting. May we not 
suppose, then, that the Josues, the Eliases, the Isaiases, the Jere- 
miases, the Daniels, in a word, all those prophets who are now 
enjoying eternal life, could breathe forth their sublime lamenta 
tions in exquisite poetry? Cannot the urn of Jerusalem still be 
filled with their tears? Are there no more willows of Babylon 
upon which they may hang their unstrung harps ? As for us, 
though we pretend not to a rank among the poets, we think that 

1 Hieron., in Vit. Paul. 2 Theod., Hist. Relig., chap. vi. 3 Hieron., lUd. 
4 We here make but slight mention of these recluses, because we shall speak 
of them in another place. 


these som of prophecy would form very striking groups among 
the clouds. Picture to yourselves their heads encircled with ra- 
d iance, silvery beards sweeping their immortal breasts, and the 
Spirit of God himself beaming from their resplendent eyes. 

But what a host of venerable shades is roused by the strain* 
of the Christian Muse in the cavern of Mambre ! Abraham, 
Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, and all ye children of the East, ye patri 
archs, kings, and ancestors of Jesus Christ, sing the ancient 
covenant between God and man ! Repeat to us that history, 
dear to heaven, the history of Joseph and his brethren ! The 
choir of holy monarchs, with David at their head, the army of 
confessors and martyrs clad in bright robes, would also furnish 
us with some exquisite touches of the marvellous. The latter 
supply the pencil with the tragic style in its highest elevation. 
Having depicted their sufferings, we might relate what God ac 
complished for those holy victims, and touch upon the gift of 
miracles with which he honored their tombs. Then we would 
station near these august choirs the band of heavenly virgins, the 
Genevieves, the Pulcherias, the Rosalias, the Cecilias, the Lu- 
cillas, the Isabellas, the Eulalias. The marvellous of Christianity 
presents the most pleasing contrasts. 

; Tis well known how Neptune, 

Rising from the deep, 
Calms with a single word the infuriate waves. 

Our doctrines furnish us with a very different kind of poetry. 
A ship is on the point of perishing. The chaplain, by mysterious 
words which absolve the soul, remits to each one the guilt of his 
sins. He addresses Heaven in that prayer which, amid the up 
roar of the elements, commends the spirits of the shipwrecked 
to the God of tempests. Already the abysses of ocean yawn to 
engulf the ill-fated vessel. Already the billows, raising their 
dismal voices among the rocks, seem to begin the funeral dirge; 
but suddenly a ray of light bursts through the storm. Mary, the 
star of the sea, the patroness of mariners, appears in the midst of 
a cloud. She holds her chile i i her arms, and calms the waves 
with a smile. Charming religion, which opposes to what is most 
terrific in nature what is most lovely on earth and in heaven, to 
whe tempests of ocean a little infant and a tender mother ! 




SUCH is the kind of marvellous which may be derived from 
our saints without entering into the varied history of their lives. 
But we discover also in the hierarchy of the angels, a doctrine as 
ancient as the world, an immense treasure for the poet. Not 
only are the commands of the Most High conveyed from one 
extremity of the universe to the other by these divine mes 
sengers, not only are they the invisible guardians of men, or 
assume, when they would manifest themselves, the most lovely 
forms, but religion permits us to assign tutelary angels to the 
beautiful incidents of nature as well as to the virtuous senti 
ments. What an innumerable multitude of divinities is thus all 
at once introduced to people the spheres ! 

Among the Greeks, heaven terminated at the summit of Mount 
Olympus, and their gods ascended no higher than the vapors of 
the earth. The marvellous of Christianity, harmonizing with 
reason, astronomy, and the expansion of the soul, penetrates from 
world to world, from universe to universe, through successions 
of space from which the astonished imagination recoils. In vain 
does the telescope explore every corner of the heavens ; in vain 
does it pursue the comet through our system; the comet at 
length flies beyond their reach ; but it cannot delude the arch 
angel, who rolls it on to its unknown pole, and who, at the ap 
pointed time, will bring it back by mysterious ways into the very 
focus of our sun. 

The Christian poet alone is initiated into the secret of these 
wonders. From globe to globe, from sun to sun, with the sera 
phim, thrones, and dominations that govern the spheres, the 
weary imagination again descends to earth, like a river which, by 
a magnificent cascade, pours forth its golden current opposite to 
the sun setting in radiant majesty. From grand and imposing 
images you pass to those which are soft and attractive. In the 
shady forest you traverse the domain of the Angel of Solitude; 


in the soft moonlight you find the Genius of the musing heart; 
you hear his sighs in the murmur of the woods and in the plain 
tive notes of Philomela. The roseate tints of the dawn are the 
streaming hair of the Angel of Morning. The Angel of Night 
reposes in the midst of the firmament like the moon slumbering 
upon a cloud ; his eyes are covered with a bandage of stars, while 
his feet and his forehead are tinged with blushes of twilight and 
Aurora; an Angel of Silence goes before him, and he is followed 
by the Angel of Mystery. Let us not wrong the poets by think 
ing that they look upon the Angel of the Seas, the Angel of 
Tempests, the Angel of Time, and the Angel of Death, as spirits 
disagreeable to the Muses. The Angel of Holy Love gives the 
virgin a celestial look, and the Angel of Harmony adorns her 
with graces; the good man owes the uprightness of his heart 
to the Angel of Virtue and the power of his words to the Angel 
of Persuasion. There is nothing to prevent our assigning to 
these beneficent spirits attributes distinctive of their powers and 
functions. The Angel of Friendship, for instance, might wear a 
girdle infinitely more wonderful than the cestus of Venus; foi 
here might be seen, interwoven by a divine hand, the consola 
tions of the soul, sublime devotion, the secret aspirations of the 
heart, innocent joys, pure religion, the charm of the tombs, and 
immortal hope. 1 

1 If we except Milton, never was a more poetical use made of the agency of 
the heavenly messengers than by Addison in the Campaign. He thus sublimely 
depicts the Angel of Vengeance : 

So, when an angel by divine command 
With rising tempests shakes a guilty land, 
Such as of late o er pale Britannia past, 
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast, 
And, pleased the Almighty s orders to perform, 
Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm. 




FROM precepts let us pass to examples. On resuming the 
subject of the preceding chapters, we shall begin with the cha 
racter ascribed to the fallen angels by Milton. 

Dante and Tasso had, prior to the English poet, depicted the 
monarch of hell. The imagination of Dante, exhausted by nine 
circles of torment, has made simply an atrocious monster of Satan, 
locked up in the centre of the earth. Tasso, by giving him horns, 
has almost rendered him ridiculous. Misled by these authorities, 
Milton had, for a moment, the bad taste to measure his Satan ; 
but he soon recovers himself in a sublime manner. Hear the 
exclamation of the Prince of Darkness from the summit of a 
mountain of fire, whence he surveys, for the first time, his new 
dominions :* 

Farewell, happy fields, 

Where joy forever dwells ! hail, horrors, hail ! 
Infernal world, and thou profoundest hell, 
Receive thy new possessor; one who brings 
A rnind not to be changed by place or time ! 

Here at least 

We shall be free 

Here we may reign secure, and, in my choice, 
To reign is worth ambition, though in hell. 

What a mode of taking possession of the infernal abyss ! 
The council of fallen spirits being assembled, the poet thus 
represents Satan in the midst of his senate : 3 

His form had not yet lost 
All her original brightness, nor appeared 
Less than archangel ruined, and the excess 
Of glory, obscured; as when the sun new risen 
Looks through the horizontal, misty air, 
Shorn of his beams, or from behind the moon 
In dim eclipse disastrous twilight sheds 
On half the nations, and with fear of change 
Perplexes monarchs. Darkened so, yet shone 

Paradise Lost, b. i. 249. 2 Paradise Lost, b. i. 591. 


Above them all the Archangel: but his face 
Deep scars of thunder had intrenched, and car* 
Sat on his faded cheek 

Let us complete the delineation of the character of Satan. 
Having escaped from hell and reached the earth, overwhelmed 
with despair, while contemplating the universe, he thus apostm- 
phizes the sun :* 

Oh thou, that, with surpassing glory crowned, 
Look st from thy sole dominion, like the God 
Of this new world, at whose sight all the stars 
Hide their diminished heads, to thee t call, 
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name, 

Sur , to tell thee how I hate thy beams, 
That bring to my remembrance from what state 

1 fell, how glorious once above thy sphere; 
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down, 
Warring in heaven against heaven s matchless King. 
Ah, wherefore ! he deserved no such return 

From me, whom he created what I was 

In that bright eminence 

Lifted up so high, 

I sdained subjection, and thought one step higher 
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit 

The debt immense of endless gratitude 

Oh, had his powerful destiny ordained 

Me some inferior angel, I had stood 

Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised 


Me miserable ! which way shall I fly 
Infinite wrath and Infinite despair? 

Which way I fly is hell ; myself am hell 

Oh then at last relent : is there no place 
Left for repentance, none for pardon left? 
None left but by submission ; and that word 
Disdain fodoids me, and the dread of shame 
Among the spirits beneath, whom I seduced 
With other promises and other vaunts, 
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue 
The Omnipotent Ah me ! they little know 
How dearly I abide that boast so vain, 
Under what torments inwardly I groan, 
While they adore me on the throne of hell. . . . 

But say I could repent, and could obtain 
By act of grace my former state ; how soon 
Would height recall my thoughts ! how soon unsay 
What feigned submission swore ! 

1 Paradise Lost, b. iv., from verse 33 to 1 13, with a few omissions. See note S. 


This knows my punisher ; therefore as far 

From granting he as I from begging peace: 

All hope excluded thus, behold, instead 

Of us outcast, exiled, his new delight, 

Mankind created, and for him this world. 

So farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear, 

Farewell remorse ; all good to me is lost ; 

Evil, be thou my good : by thee, at least, 

Divided empire with heaven s King I hold 

By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign, 

As man ere long and this new world shall know. 

How exalted soever may be our admiration of Homer, we are 
obliged to admit that lie has nothing which can be compared to 
this passage. When, in conjunction with the grandeur of the 
subject, the excellence of the poetry, the natural elevation of the 
characters, so intimate an acquaintance with the passions is dis 
played, what more can justly be required of genius ? Satan 
repenting when he beholds the light, which he hates because it 
reminds him how much more glorious was once his own con 
dition; afterward wishing that he had been created of an inferioi 
rank j then hardening himself in guilt by pride, by shame, and 
by mistrust itself of his ambitious cliaracter ; finally, as the sole 
result of his reflections, and as if to atone for a transient re 
morse, taking upon himself the empire of evil throughout all 
eternity this is certainly one of the most sublime conceptions 
that ever sprang from the imagination of a poet. 

An idea here strikes us, which we cannot forbear to communi 
cate. Whoever possesses discernment and a knowledge of his 
tory, must perceive that Milton has introduced into the character 
of Satan the perverseness of those men, who about the middle 
of the seventeenth century filled England with mourning and 
wretchedness. You even discover in him the same obstinacy, 
the same enthusiasm, the same pride, the same spirit of rebellion 
and intolerance ; you meet with the principles of those infamous 
levellers, who, seceding from the religion of their country, shook 
off the yoke of all legitimate government, revolting at once 
against God and man. Milton had himself imbibed this spirit 
of perdition; and the poet could not have imagined a Satan so 
detestable, unless he had seen his image in one of those repro 
bates who, for such a length of time, transformed their country 
into n real abode of demons. 




Venus in the woods of Carthage Raphael in the bowers of Eden 
WE shall now quote some examples of poetical machinery. 
Venus appearing to Muezs in the woods of Carthage is a passage 
composed in the most graceful style. " His mother, pursuing 
the same path across the forest, suddenly stands before him. She 
had the figure and the face of a nymph, and was armed after the 
manner of the virgins of Tyre." 

This poetry is charming j but has the bard of Eden fallen short 
of it, when describing the arrival of the angel Raphael at the 
bower of our first parents ? 

Six wings he wore, to shade 
His lineaments divine ; the pair that clad 
Each shoulder broad came mantling o er his breast 
With regal ornament ; the middle pair 
Girt like a starry zone his waist ; 

.... the third his feet 
Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail 

Sky-tinctured grain He stood 

And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance filled 
The circuit wide 

.... He now is come 

Into the blissful field through groves of myrrh 
And flowering odors, cassia, nard, and balm, 
A wilderness of sweets ; for Nature here 
Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will 

Her virgin fancies 

Him through the spicy forest onward come, 
Adam discerned, as in the door he sat, 

.... and thus he called : 
Haste hither, Eve, and worth thy sight behold, 
Eastward among those trees what glorious shape 
Comes this way moving j seems another morn 
Risen on mid-noon. 

In this passage, Milton, little inferior in grace to Virgil, sur- 
the Ronan poet in sanctity and grandeur. Raphael is 


more beautiful than Venus, Eden more delicious than the woods 
of Carthage, and ^neas is a cold and insignificant character in 
comparison with the majestic father of mankind. 

Here is a description of one of Klopstock s mystical angels : 
"The first-born of the Thrones quickly descended toward 
Gabriel, to conduct him in solemn state into the presence of Ae 
Most High. By the Eternal he is called the Elect, and by H* *- 
ven, Eloa. He is the highest of all created beings, and next m 
rank to the Essence increate ; a single thought of his is as beau 
tiful as the whole soul of man when, worthy of immortality, it is 
absorbed in profound meditation. His looks are more lovely than 
the vernal morn ; brighter than the stars when, in youthful splen 
dor, they issued from their Creator s hands to run their appointed 
courses. He was the first being that God created. From the 
crimson dawn he formed his ethereal body. When he received 
existence, a heaven of clouds floated around him ; God himself 
raised him -from them in his arms, and, blessing him, said, Crea 
ture, here afn, I!" 1 

Raphael is the external, Eloa the internal, angel. The Mer 
curies and the Apollos of mythology seem to us less divine than 
these genii of Christianity. 

The gods in Homer fight with each other on several occasions ; 
but we there meet with nothing superior to the preparations of 
Satan for giving battle to Gabriel in paradise, or to the over 
throw of the rebel legions by the thunderbolts of Emanuel. The 
divinities of the Iliad several times rescue their favorite heroes 
by covering them with a cloud; but this machine has been most 
happily transferred to Christian poetry by Tasso, when he intro 
duces Solyman into Jerusalem. 2 The car enveloped in vapor, 
the invisible journey of an aged enchanter and a hero through 
the camp of the Christians, the secret gate of Herod, the al 
lusions to ancient times interwoven with a rapid narrative, the 
warrior who attends a council without being seen, and who shows 
himself only to urge Jerusalem to make a longer resistance, all 
this marvellous machinery, though of the magic kind, possesses 
extraordinary excellence. 

It may perhaps be objected that paganism has at least the 

Metaias., Erst. ges. v. 286, Ac. " Book x. 



superiority over Christianity in the description of the voluptuous 
What shall we say, then, of Armida ? Is she devoid of charms 
when, leaning over the forehead of the slumbering Renaud, the 
dagger drops from her hand and her hatred is transformed into 
love ? Is Ascanius, concealed by Venus in the Cytherean forests, 
more pleasing than the young hero of Tasso who is bound with 
flowery chains and transported to the Fortunate Isles ? There is 
certainly no excess of the serious in those gardens whose only 
fault is to be too enchanting or in those loves that require only 
to be covered with a veil. We find in this episode even the 
cestus of Venus, the omission of which in other places has been 
BO much regretted. If discontented critics would have the use 
of magic altogether banished from poetry, the spirits of darkness 
might become the principal actors themselves, instead of being 
the agents of men. The facts recorded in the Lives of the Saints 
would authorize such imagery, and the demon of sensualism has 
always been considered as one of the most dangerous *iwl most 
powerful among the infernal spirits. 



WE have now but two species of poetic machinery to treat of 
the journeys of the gods, and dreams. 

To begin with the latter, we shall select the dream of 
on the fatal night of the destruction of Troy, which the 
himself thus relates to Dido : 

Twas in the dead of night, when sleep repairs 
Otr bodies worn with toils, our minds with cares, 
"When Hector s ghost before my sight appears : 
A bloody shroud he seemed, and bathed in tears. 
Such as he was when, by Pelides slain, 
Thessalian coursers dragged him o er the plain. 
Swoln were his feet, as when the thongs were thrust 
Through the bored holes, his body black with dust; 
Unlike that Hector who returned from toils 
Of war triumphant in JEacian spoils, 


Or him who made the fainting Greeks retire, 

And launched against their navy Phrygian fire. 

His hair and beard stood stiftened with his gore, 

And all the wounds he for his country bore 

Now streamed afresh, and with new purple ran. 

I wept to see the visionary man, 

And while my trance continued thus began : 

light of Trojans and support of Troy, 

Thy father s champion and thy country s joy ! 

long-expected by thy friends ! from whence 

Art thou so late returned for our defence? 

Do we behold thee, wearied as we are 

With length of labors and with toils of war? 

After so many funerals of thy own, 

Art thou restored to our declining town ? 

But say, what wounds are these ? what new disgrace 

Deforms the manly features of thy face ? 

To this the spectre no reply did frame, 

But answered to the cause for which he came, 

And, groaning from the bottom of his breast, 

This warning in these mournful words expressed : 

goddess-born ! escape, by timely flight, 

The flames and horrors of this fatal night; 

The foes already have possessed the wall; 

Troy nods from high and totters to her fall. 

Enough is paid to Priam s royal name, 

More than enough to duty and to fame. 

If by a mortal hand my father s throne 

Could be defended, twas by mine alone : 

Now Troy to thee commends her future state, 

And gives her gods companions of thy fate : 

From their assistance happier walls expect, 

Which, wandering long, at last thou shalt erect. 

He said, and brought me from their blest abodes 

The venerable statues of the gods, 

With ancient Vesta from the sacred choir, 

The wreaths and relics of the immortal fire. 1 

This dream deserves particular attention, because it is an epi 
tome, as it were, of Virgil s genius, and displays, in a narrow 
compass, all the species of beauties peculiar to that poet. 

We are struck, in the first place, with the contrast between 
this terrific dream and the peaceful hour in which it is sent by 
the. gods to JEneas. No one has referred to times and places 
with more impressive effect than the Mantuan poet. Here it is 

1 Dryden s Virgil, book ii. 


a tomb, there some affecting adventure, that determines the limit? 
of a country } a new city bears an ancient appellation ; a foreign 
stream assumes the name of a river in one s native land. As to 
the hours, Virgil has almost always coupled the most tranquil 
time with the most distressing events, producing a contrast re 
plete with melancholy, and which recalls the philosophic moral 
that nature fulfils her laws undisturbed by the petty revolutions 
in human things. 

The delineation of Hector s ghost is also worthy of notice. The 
phantom, surveying j&neas in silence, his big tears, his swollen 
feet, are minor circumstances of which the great painter invari 
ably avails himself to give identity to the object. The words of 
JEneas quantum mutatus ab illo I are the exclamation of a hero, 
duly sensible of Hector s merits and taking a retrospective view 
of the whole history of Troy. In the squallentem barbam et con- 
cretos sanguine crines you see the perfect spectre. But Virgil, 

after his manner, suddenly changes the idea : Vulnera 

circum plurima muros accepit patrios. How comprehensive are 
these words ! a eulogy on Hector, the memory of his misfortunes 
and those of his country, for which he received so many wounds. 
lux Dard anise ! Spes 6 fidissima Teucrum ! are exclamations 
fraught with genuine ardor. How deeply pathetic and how 
keenly painful do they render the succeeding words : ut te post 
multa tuorum funera . . . adspicimus! Alas! this is the his 
tory of those who leave their country. On their return we may 
address them in the words of ^Eneas to Hector : 

After so many funerals of thy own, 

Art thou restored to our declining town ?* 

The silence of Hector, his deep sigh, followed by the exhorta 
tion, fuge, eripe Jlammis, are also striking circumstances, and 
cannot fail to produce effects of terror and consternation in the 
mind of the reader. The last trait in the picture combines the 
twofold imagery of dream and vision ; and it seems as if the 
spectre were removing Troy itself from the earth when he hur 
ries off with the statue of Vesta and the sacred fire in his arms. 

There is, moreover, in this dream, a beauty derived from the 

1 The author could not refrain from this observation, after having expe 
rienced tke truth of it in all its terrible reality. E. 


very nature of the thing, ^neas at first rejoices to see Hector, 
under the impression that he is yet alive ; he then alludes to the 
misfortunes that have befallen Troy since the death of the hero. 
The state in which he beholds him is not sufficient to remind him 
of his fate ; he asks, whence proceed those wounds f and yet tells 
you that he thus appeared the day on which he was dragged 
round the walls of Ilion. Such is the incoherence of the ideas, 
sentiments, and images, of a dream. 

It is a high gratification to us to find among the Christian 
poets something that rivals, and that perhaps surpasses, this 
dream. In poetry, tragic effect, and religion, these two delinea 
tions are equal, and Virgil is once more repeated in Racine. 

Athalie, under Ihe portico of the temple of Jerusalem, thus 
relates her dream to Abner and Mathan : 

Twas in^he dead of night, when horror reigns, 

My mother Jezabel appeared before me, 

Richly attired as on the day she died. 

Her sorrows had not damped her noble pride ; 

She even still retained those borrowed charms 

Which, to conceal the irreparable ravage 

Of envious time, she spread upon her cheeks. 

"Tremble," said she, "0 daughter worthy of me! 

The Hebrews cruel God gainst thee prevails j 

I grieve that into his tremendous hands 

Thou too must fall, my daughter !" As she spoke 

These awful words, her shadow toward my bed 

Appeared to stoop; I stretched my arms to meet her 

But grasped in my embrace a frightful mass 

Of bones and mangled flesh besmeared with mire, 

Garments all dyed with gore, and shattered limbs, 

Which greedy dogs seemed eagerly to fight for. 

It would be difficult to decide, in this place, between Virgil 
and Racine. Both dreams are alike drawn from the character 
of their respective religions. Virgil is more melancholy, Racine 
more terrific. The latter would have missed his object, and be 
trayed an ignorance of the gloomy spirit of the Hebrew doctrines, 
if, after the example of the former, he had placed the dream of 
Athalie in a peaceful hour. As he is about to perform much, so 
also he promises much in the verse 

Twas in the dead of night, when horror reigns. 

In Racine there is a conformity, and in Virgil a contrast, of 



The scene announced by the apparition of Hector that is to 
ay, the destruction of a great nation and the foundation of the 
Roman empire would be much more magnificent than the fall of 
a single queen, if Joas, rekindling the to~ch of David, did not 
show us in the distance the coming of the Messiah and the re 
formation of all mankind. 

The two poets exhibit the same excellence, though we prefer 
the passage in Racine. As Hector first appeared to tineas, so 
he remained to the end ; but the borrowed pomp of Jezabel, so 
suddenly contrasted with her gory and lacerated form, is a change 
of person which gives to Racine s verse a beauty not possessed 
by that of Virgil. The mother s ghost, also, bending over her 
daughter s bed, as if to conceal itself, and then all at once trans 
formed into mangled bones and flesh, is one of those frightful 
circumstances which are characteristic of the phantom. 



Journeys of Homer s gods Satan s expedition in quest of the 
New Creation. 

WE now come to that part of poetic machinery which is derived 
from the journeys of supernatural beings. This is one of the de 
partments of the marvellous in which Homer has displayed the 
greatest sublimity. Sometimes he tells you that the car of the 
god flies like the thought of a traveller, who calls to mind in a 
moment all the regions that he has visited; at others he says, 
"Far as a man seated on a rock on the brink of ocean can see 
around him, so far the immortal coursers sprang forward at every 

But, whatever may be the genius of Homer and the majesty 
of his gods, his marvellous and all his grandeur are nevertheless 
eclipsed by the marvellous of Christianity. 


Satan, having reached the gates of hell, which are opened for 
him by sin and death, prepares to go in quest of the creation. 1 

The gates wide open stood, 

And like a furnace mouth 

Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame. 

Before their eyes in sudden view appear 

The secrets of the hoary deep, a dark 

Illimitable ocean, without bound, 

Without dimension, where length, breadth, and height* 

And time and place, are lost; where eldest Night 

And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold 

Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise 

Of endless wars, and by confusion stand. . . . 

Into this wild abyss the wary fiend 

Stood on the brink of hell, and looked a while, 

Pondering his voyage, for no narrow frith 

He had to cross 

At last his sail-broad vans 

He spreads for flight, and, in the surging smoke 

Uplifted, spurns the ground; thence many a league, 

As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides 

Audacious ; but that seat soon failing, meets 

A vast vacuity ; all unawares, 

Fluttering his pennons vain, plump down he drops 

Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour 

Down had been falling, had not, by ill chance, 

The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud, 

Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him 

As many miles aloft; that fury stayed 

Quenched in a boggy syrtis, neither sea, 

Nor good dry land ; nigh foundered, on he fares, 

Treading the crude consistence, half on foot, 

Half flying 

The fiend 

O er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare, 

With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way, 

And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. 

At length, a universal hubbub wild 

Of stunning sounds and voices all confused, 

Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear 

With loudest vehemence ; thither he plies, 

Undaunted to meet there whatever power 

Or spirit of the nethermost abyss 

Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask 

Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies 

> Paradise Lost, book ii. v. 888 to 1050; book iii. v. 501 to 544, with the 
omksion of passages here and there. 


Bordering on light, when straight behold the throne 

Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread 

Wide on the wasteful deep; with him enthroned, 

Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things, 

The consort of his reign ; and by them stood 

Rumor and Chance, 

And Tumult and Confusion all embroiled, 
And Discord with a thousand various mouths, 
To whom Satan, turning boldly, thus : Ye Poweri 
And Spirits of this nethermost abyss, 
Chaos, and ancient Night, I come no spy 
With purpose to explore or to disturb 
The secrets of your realm, but by constraint 
Wandering this darksome desert, as my way 
Lies through your spacious empire up to light 

Direct my course. 

Thus Satan ; and him thus the Anarch old, 

With faltering speech and visage incomposed, 

Answered: I know thee, stranger, who thou art; 

That mighty leading angel, who of late 

Made head against heaven s King, though overthrowi 

I upon my frontiers here 

Keep residence, ........ 

That little which is left so to defend, 
Encroached on still through your intestine broils, 
Weakening the sceptre of old Night; first hell, 
Your dungeon stretching far and wide beneath; 
Now lately heaven and earth, another world, 
Hung o er my realm, linked in a golden chain 
To that side heaven from whence your legions felL 

Go and speed; 

Havoc and spoil and ruin are my gain ! 
He ceased ; and Satan stayed not to reply, 
But, glad that now his sea should find a shore, 
With fresh alacrity and force renewed, 
Springs upward like a pyramid of fire 

Into the wild expanse 

But now at last the sacred influence 

Of light appears, and from the walls of heaven 

Shoots far into the bosom of dim night 

A glimmering dawn ; here nature first begins 

Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire 

That Satan with less toil, and now with ease, 

Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light, 

And like a weather-beaten vessel holds 

Gladly the port, 

Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold 
Far off the empyreal heaven extended wide 
With opal towers and battlements adorned 


Of living sapphire 

Far distant he descries, 

Ascending, by degrees magnificent, 
Up to the wall of heaven, a structure high- 
Direct against which opened from beneath 

A passage down to the earth. 

Satan from hence now on the lower stair, 
That scaled by steps of gold to heaven gate, 
Looks down with wonder at the sudden view 
Of all this world at once. 

In the opinion of any impartial person, a religion *hich has 
furnished such a sublime species of the marvellous, and more 
over inspired the idea of the loves of Adam and Eve, cannot be 
an anti-poetical religion. What is Juno, repairing to the limits 
of the earth in Ethiopia, to Satan speeding his course from the 
depths of Chaos up to the frontiers of nature ? The passages 
which we have omitted still heighten the effect; for they seem 
to protract the journey of the prince of darkness, and convey to 
the reader a vague conception of the infinite space through 
which he has passed. 



AMONG the many differences which distinguish the Christian 
hell from the Tartarus of the ancients, one in particular is well 
worthy of remark; that is, the torments which the devils them 
selves undergo. Pluto, the Judges, the Fates, the Furies, shared 
not the tortures of the guilty. The pangs of our infernal spirits 
are therefore an additional field for the imagination, and conse 
quently a poetical advantage which our hell possesses over that 
of antiquity. 

In the Cimmerian plains of the Odyssey, the indistinctness of 
the place, the darkness, the incongruity of the objects, the ditch 
where the shades assemble to quaff blood, give to the picture 
comething awful, and that perhaps bears a nearer resemblance 
to the Christian hell than the Taenarus of Virgil. In the latter 
may be perceived the progress of the philosophic doctrines of 


Greece. The Fates, the Cocytus, the Styx, are to be found with 
all their details in the works of Plato. Here commences a dis 
tribution of punishments and rewards unknown to Homer. We 
.have already observed 1 that misfortune, indigence,, and weak 
ness, were, after death, banished by the pagans to a world as 
painful as the present. The religion of Jesus Christ has not thus 
repudiated the souls of men; on the contrary, it teaches the 
unhappy that when they are removed from this world of tribula 
tion they shall be conveyed to a place of repose, and that, if 
they have thirsted after righteousness in time, they shall enjoy 
its rewards in eternity. 3 

If philosophy be satisfied, it will not be difficult perhaps to con 
vince the Muses. We must admit that no Christian poet has 
done justice to the subject of hell. Neither Dante, nor Tasso, 
nor Milton, is unexceptionable in this respect. There are some 
excellent passages, however, in their descriptions, which show 
that if all the parts of the picture had been retouched with equal 
care they would have produced a place of torment as poetical as 
those of Homer and Virgil. 



Entrance of Avernus Dante s gate of Hell Dido Francisca 
d Arimino Torments of the damned. 

THE description of the entrance of Avernus in the sixth book 
of the ^Eneid contains some very finished composition : 

Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram, 
Perque domos ditis vacuas et inania regna. 

Pallentes habitant morbi, tristisque senectus, 

1 Part i. book vi. 

* The pagan view respecting the infernal region was so manifestly unjust 
that Virgil himbelf was compelled to notice it : 

.... sortemque animo miseratus iniquam. JEneid, b. vL 


Et metus, et malesuada fames, et turpis egestas, 
Terribiles visu formae ; letumque, laborque, 
Turn consanguineus leti sopor, et mala mentis 

Every one who can read Latin must be struck with the mourn- 
fhl harmony of these lines. You first hear the bellowing of the 
cavern in which the Sibyl and ^Eneas are walking : 

Ibant obscuri sola, sub nocte per umbram ; 

then you are all at once ushered into desert spaces, into the 
regions of vacuity : 

Perque domos ditis vacuas et inania regna. 

Next come the dull and heavy syllables which admirably repre 
sent the deep sighs of hell : 

Tristisque senectus, et metus letumque, laborque, 

consonances which moreover evince that the ancients were no 
strangers to the species of beauty attached by us to rhyme. The 
Latins, as well as the Greeks, employed the repetition of sounds 
in their pastoral pictures and sombre harmonies. 

Dante, like ^neas, at first wanders in a wild forest which con 
ceals the entrance to his hell. Nothing can be more awful than 
this solitude. He soon reaches the gate, over which he discovers 
the well-known inscription : 

Per me si va nella citta dolente; 
Per me si va nell eterno dolore: 
Per me si va tra la perduta gente. 

Lasciat* ogni speranza, voi ch entrate. 

Here we find precisely the same species of beauties as in the 
Latin poet. Every ear must be struck with the monotonous ca 
dence of these repeated rhymes, in which the everlasting outcry 
of pain which ascends from the depths of the abyss seems alter 
nately to burst forth and expire. In the thrice reiterated per me 
si vd you may fancy the knell of the dying Christian. The 
lasciat ogni speranza is comparable to the grandest trait in the 
hell of Virgil. 

Milton, after the example of the Mantuan poet, has placed 
Death at the entrance of his hell (Letum) as well as Sin, which 


is nothing else than the mala mentis gaudia, the guilty joys of 
the heart. The former is thus described by him : 

The other shape, 
If shape it might be called that shape had none, 

Black it stood as Night, 

Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell, 

And shook a dreadful dart. What seemed his head, 

The likeness of a kingly crown had on. 

Never was phantom represented in a manner more vague and 
more terrific. The origin of Death, related by Sin, the manner 
in which the echoes of hell repeat the tremendous name when for 
the first time pronounced, form altogether a species of dark 
sublime unknown to antiquity. 1 

Advancing into the infernal regions, we go with ^Eneas 
into the lugentes campi, the plain of tears. He there meets with 
the unfortunate Dido. He discovers her in the shade of a wood, 
as you perceive, or fancy that you perceive, the new moon rising 
through the clouds. 

Qualem primo qui surgere mense 
Aut videt aut vidisse putat per nubila lunam. 

The whole of this passage displays exquisite taste; but Dante 
is perhaps not less pathetic in the description of the plain of tears. 
Virgil has placed lovers among myrtle groves and solitary alleys. 
Dante has surrounded his with a lurid atmosphere and tempests, 
which incessantly drive them to and fro. The one has assigned 
to love its own reveries as a punishment. The other has sought 
that punishment in the image of the excesses to which the pas 
sion gives birth. Dante accosts an unhappy couple in the midst 
of a whirlwind. Francisca d Arimino, being questioned by the 
poet, relates the history of her misfortunes and of her love. 

1 Harris, in his Hermes, remarks that this passage derives great beauty from 
the masculine gender which is here given to Death. If Milton had said, shook 
her dart, instead of shook his dart, the sublime would be diminished. Death is 
masculine in Greek, (Oavaros,) and Racine has also given it the masculine gen 
der in French, La mort est le seul dieu que j osois implorer. Voltaire has not 
approved himself much as a critic in finding fault with the use of the masculine 
for death and of the feminine for sin, as, in English, death may be any of the 
three genders, and sin is properly made feminine by the general rule which 
applies this gender to nouns implying either weakness or capacity. 


One day, 

For our delight, we read of Lancelot, 
How him love thralled. Alone we were, and no 
Suspicion near us. Oft-tiines, by that reading, 
Our eyes were drawn together, and the hue 
Fled from our altered cheek. But at one point 
Alone we felL When of that smile we read, 
The wished smile, so rapturously kissed 
By one so deep in love, then he, who ne er 
From me shall separate, at once my lips 
All trembling kissed. The book and writer both 
Were love s purveyors. In its leaves that day 
We read no more. 1 

What admirable simplicity in this recital of Francisca ! What 
delicacy of expression in the concluding lines! They are not 
surpassed by the language of Virgil in the fourth book of the 
JEneid, where allusion is made to the love of Dido : 

Then first the trembling earth the signal gave, 

And flashing fires enlighten all the cave; 

Hell from below, and Juno from above, 

And howling nymphs, were conscious to their love.* 

Not far from the field of tears, tineas descries the field of the 
Warriors. Here he meets with Deiphobus, cruelly mutilated. In 
teresting as his story may be, the mere name of Ugolino reminds 
us of a far more exquisite passage. That Voltaire should have 
discovered nothing but burlesque objects in the flames of a Chris 
tian hell is a circumstance that may be conceived; but we would 
ask whether poetry at least does not find its advantage in the 
scenes in which Count Ugolino appears, and which form the sub 
ject of such exquisite verse, such tragic episode? 

When we pass from all these details to a general view of hell 
and of Tartarus, we find in the latter the Titans blasted with 
lightning, Ixion threatened with the fall of a rock, the Danaids 
with their tun, Tantalus disappointed by the waters, &c. 

Whether it be that we are familiarized with the idea of these tor 
ments, or that they have nothing in them capable of producing 
the terrible because they are measured by the standard of hard 
ships known in life, so much is certain, that they make but little 
impression on the mind. But would you be deeply affected, 

1 Canto v. 2 Dryden s Trang ation. 

29 W 


would you know how far the imagination of pan can extend, 
would you become acquainted with the poetry of torments and 
the hymns of flesh and blood, descend into the hell of Dante. 
Here spirits are tossed about by the whirlwinds of a tempest; 
there burning sepulchres enclose the followers of heresy. Tyrants 
^re plunged into a river of warm blood. Suicides, who have dis 
regarded the noble nature of man, are sank toward that of the 
plant, and are transformed into stunted trees which grow in a 
burning sand and whose branches the harpies are incessantly 
breaking off. These spirits will not be united to their bodies on 
the day of the general resurrection. They will drag them into 
the dreary forest, and there suspend them to the boughs of the trees 
to which they are attached. 

Let it not be asserted that any Greek or Roman author could 
have produced a Tartarus as awful as Dante s Inferno. Such a 
remark, were it even correct, would prove nothing decisive against 
the poetic resources of the Christian religion ; but those who have 
the slightest acquaintance with the genius of antiquity will ad 
mit that the sombre coloring of Dante is not to be found in the 
pagan theology, and that it belongs to the stern doctrines of cur 



THAT the doctrine of purgatory opens to the Christian poet a 
source of the marvellous which was unknown to antiquity will be 
readily admitted. 1 Nothing, perhaps, is more favorable to the 
inspiration of the muse than this middle state of expiation be 
tween the region of bliss and that of pain, suggesting the idea of 
a confused mixture of happiness and of suffering. The grada- 

1 Some trace of this dogma is to be found in Plato and in the doctrine o/ 
Zeno. (See Diog. Laer.) The poets also appear to have had some idea of it; 
(JEneid, b. vi. ;) but these notions are all vague and inconsequent. (See 
note T.) 


tion of the punishments inflicted on those souls that are more or 
less happy, more or less brilliant, according to their degree of 
proximity to an eternity of joy or of wo, affords an impressive 
subject for poetic description. In this respect it surpasses the 
subjects of heaven and hell, because it possesses a future, whicr 
they do not. 

The river Lethe was a graceful appendage of the ancient Ely 
sium; but it cannot be said that the shades which came to life 
again on its banks exhibited the same poetical progress in the 
way to happiness that we behold in the souls of purgatory. When 
they left the abodes of bliss to reappear among men, they passed 
from a perfect to an imperfect state. They re-entered the ring 
for the fight. They were born again to undergo a second death. 
In short, they came forth to see what they had already seen be 
fore. Whatever can be measured by the human mind is neces 
sarily circumscribed. We may admit, indeed, that there was some 
thing striking and true in the circle by which the ancients sym 
bolized eternity; but it seems to us that it fetters the imagina 
tion by confining it always within a dreaded enclosure. The 
straight line extended ad injinitum would perhaps be more ex 
pressive, because it would carry our thoughts into a world of un 
defined realities, and would bring together three things which 
appear to exclude each other, hope, mobility, and eternity. 

The apportionment of the punishment to the sin is another 
source of invention which is found in the purgatorial state, and is 
highly favorable to the sentimental. What ingenuity might be 
displayed in determining the pains of a mother who has been too 
indulgent of a maiden who has been too credulous of a young 
man who has become the victim of a too ardent temperament ! 
If violent winds, raging fires, and icy cold, lend their influence to 
the torments of hell, why may not milder sufferings be derived 
from the song of the nightingale, from the fragrance of flowers, 
from the murmur of the brook, or from the moral affections them 
selves? Homer and Ossian tell us of the joy of grief, 

Poetry finds its advantage also in that doctrine of purgatory 
which teaches us that the prayers and other good works of the 
faithful may obtain the deliverance of souls from their temporal 
pains. How admirable is this intercourse between the living son 


and the deceased father between the mother and df> nghter be 
tween husband and wife between life and death ! What affect 
ing considerations are suggested by this tenet of religion ! My 
virtue, insignificant being as I am, becomes the common property 
of Christians; and, as I participate in the guilt of Adam, so also 
the good that I possess passes to the account of others. Christian 
poets! the prayers of your Nisus will be felt, in their happy 
effects, by some Euryalus beyond the grave. The rich, whose 
charity you describe, may well share their abundance with the 
poor; for the pleasure which they take in performing this simple 
and grateful act, will receive its reward from the Almighty in the 
release of their parents from the expiatory flame. What a beau 
tiful feature in our religion, to impel the heart of man to virtue 
by the power of love, and to make him feel that the very coin 
which gives bread for the moment to an indigent fellow-being, 
entitles perhaps some rescued soul to an eternal position at the 
table of the Lord ! 



THE characteristic which essentially distinguishes Paradise 
from Elysium is this, that in the former the righteous souls dwell 
in heaven with God and the angels, whereas in the latter the 
happy shades are separated from Olympus. The philosophic 
system of Plato and Pythagoras, which divides the soul into two 
essences the subtle form, which flies beneath the moon, and the 
spirit, which ascends to the Divinity, this system is not within 
our province, which embraces the poetical theology alone. 

We have shown in various parts of this work the difference 
which exists between the felicity of the elect and that of the 
manes in Elysium. Tis one thing to dance and to feast, and 
another to know the nature of things, to penetrate into the secrets 
of futurity, to contemplate the revolutions of the spheres in a 
word, to be associated in the omniscience if not in the omni- 


potence, of the Eternal. It is, however, not a little extraordinary 
that, with so many advantages, the Christian poets have all been 
unsuccessful in their description of heaven. Some have failed 
through timidity, as Tasso and Milton; others from fatigue, as 
Dante; from a philosophical spirit, as Voltaire; or from over 
drawing the picture, as Klopstock. 1 This subjecf, therefore, 
must involve some hidden difficulty, in regard to which we shall 
offer the following conjectures : 

It is natural to man to show his sympathy only in those things 
which bear some relation to him and which affect him in a par 
ticular way, for instance, misfortune. Heaven, the seat of un 
bounded felicity, is too much above the human condition for the 
soul to be touched by it; we feel but little interest in beings per 
fectly happy. On this account, the poets have always succeeded 
better in the description of hell ; humanity, at least, is here, and 
the torments of the wicked remind us of the afflictions of life ; 
we are affected by the woes of others, like the slaves of Achilles, 
who, while shedding many tears for the death of Patroclus, 
secretly deplored their own unhappy lot. 

To avoid the coldness resulting from the eternal and ever uni 
form felicity of the just, the poet might contrive to introduce 
into heaven some kind of hope or expectation of superior happi 
ness, or of some grand unknown epoch in the revolution of 
beings ; a he might remind the reader more frequently of human 
things, either by drawing comparisons or by giving affections 
and even passions to the blessed. Scripture itself mentions the 
hopes and the sacred sorrows of heaven. Why should there not 
be in paradise tears such as saints might be capable of shedding ? 3 

1 It is singular enough that Chapelain, who has produced choirs of martyrs, 
virgins, and apostles, has alone represented the Christian paradise in its true 

2 The essential happiness of the blessed in heaven, viz., that which consists 
in the intuitive vision of God, cannot be increased either before or after the re 
surrection ; but their accidental happiness, or that which may be derived from 
creatures, is susceptible of augmentation ; for instance, when they witness the 
conversion of sinners, or behold new saints, especially their own relatives or 
friends, added to the number of the elect. Such events cannot fail to heighten 
their joy, on account of the love which they have for God and for their neigh- 

.bor. In this sense only can there be any hope in heaven. (See Witasse, 
de Deo., quaest. xi. sect, xii.) T. 

3 Milton has seized this idea when he represents the angels dismayed at the 



By these various means he would produce harmonies between oui 
feeble nature and a more sublime constitution, between our short 
lived existence and eternal things ; we should be less disposed to 
consider as an agreeable fiction a happiness which, like our own, 
would be mingled with vicissitudes and tears. 

From alMhese considerations on the employment of the Chris 
tian marvellous in poetry, we may at least doubt whether the 
marvellous of Paganism possesses so great an advantage over it 
as has generally been supposed. Milton, with all his faults, is 
everlastingly opposed to Homer, with all his beauties. But sup 
pose for a moment that the bard of Eden had been born in 
France, that he had flourished during the age of Louis XIV., 
and that with the native grandeur of his genius he had combined 
the taste of Racine and Boileau ; we ask, what in this case the 
Paradise Lost would have been, and whether the marvellous of 
that poem would not have equalled the marvellous of the Iliad 
and Odyssey? If we formed our judgment of mythology from 
the Pharsalia, or even from the ^Eneid, would we have that 
brilliant idea of it which is conveyed by the father of the graces, 
the inventor of the cestus of Venus ? When we possess a work 
on a Christian subject as perfect in its kind as the performances 
of Homer, we will then have a fair opportunity of deciding be 
tween the marvellous of fable and the marvellous of our OWD 
religion ; and till then we shall take the liberty of doubting the 
truth of that precept of Boileau : 

The awful mysteries of the Christian s faith 

Admit not of the lighter ornaments. 

We might, indeed, have abstained from bringing Christianity 
into the lists against mythology, on the single question concerning 
the marvellous. If we have entered into this subject, it is only 
to exhibit the superabundant resources of our cause. We might 
cut short the question in a simple and decisive manner; for were 
it as certain as it is doubtful that Christianity is incapable of 
furnishing as rich a marvellous as that of fable, still it is true 
that it possesses a certain poetry of the soul, an imag nation of 
the heart, of which no trace is to be found in mythology; and 
the impressive beauties which emanate from this source would 

intelligence of the fall of man ; and Fenelon in like manner assigns emotions 
of pity to the happy shades. 


alone compensate the loss of the ingenious fictions oi antiquity. 
In the pictures of paganism, every thing has a physical character, 
every thing is external and adapted only to the eye ; in the de 
lineations of the Christian religion, all is sentiment and mind, all 
is internal, all is created for the soul. What food for thought ! 
what depth of meditation ! There is more sweetness in one of 
those divine tears which Christianity draws from the eyes of the 
believer than in all the smiling errors of mythology. A poet 
has only to contemplate the Mother of Sorrows, or some obscure 
saint, the patron of the blind and the orphan, to compose a more 
affecting work than with all the gods of the Pantheon. Is there 
not poetry here? Do we not find here also the marvellous? But, 
if you would have a marvellous still more sublime, contemplate 
the life, actions, and sufferings of the Redeemer, and recollect 
that your God bore the appellation of the Son of man! Yes, 
we venture to predict that a time will come when men will be 
lost in astonishment to think how they could have overlooked the 
admirable beauties which exist in the mere names, in the mere 
expressions, of Christianity, and will be scarcely able to conceive 
how it was possible to aim the shafts of ridicule at this religion 
of reason and of misfortune. 1 

Here we conclude the survey of the direct relations between 
Christianity and the Muses, having considered it in its relations 
to men and in its relations to supernatural beings. We shall 
close our remarks on this subject with a general view of the 
Bible, the source whence Milton, Dante, Tasso, and Racine, de 
rived a part of their wonderful imagery, as the great poets of 
antiquity had borrowed their grandest traits from the works of 

i The religion of reason or truth, established by the Son of God, most, by ita 
very nature, be always a butt of opposition for e-very variety of religious error, 
and consequently expose its professors to obloquy and persecution. It is there 
fore a religion of misfortune or suffering, as well as of reason or truth. Our 
Saviour himself announced this external characteristic of his church, and it is 
a source of immense consolation to its faithful but persecuted members of the 
present day to recall those words, " You shall be hated by all men for my 
name s sake." On the other hand, it is a melancholy evidence of the strange 
i>lin<lness that seizes upon the mind, that there are men who boast of their 
Christianity, and yet, despite the positive declarations of Christ, do not recognise 
in the storm of opposition continually raging against the Church one of the 
most striking characteristics of its truth. (See St. Matt, x.) T. 




How extraordinary that work which begins with Genesis and 
ends with the Apocalypse ! which opens in the most perspicuous 
style, and concludes in the most figurative language ! May we 
not justly assert that in the books of Moses all is grand and 
simple, like that creation of the world and that innocence of 
primitive mortals which he describes, and that all is terrible 
and supernatural in the last of the prophets, like that corrupt 
society and that consummation of ages which he has represented ? 

The productions most foreign to our manners, the sacred books 
of infidel nations, the Zendavesta of the Parsees, the Vidam of 
the Brahmins, the Goran of the Turks, the Edda of the Scandi 
navians, the maxims of Confucius, the Sanscrit poems, excite in 
us no surprise. We find in all these works the ordinary chain 
of human ideas ; they have all some resemblance to each other 
both in tone and idea. The Bible alone is like none of them ; it 
is a monument detached from all the others. Explain it to a 
Tartar, to a Caffre, to an American savage j put it into the hands 
of a bonze or a dervise ; they will be all equally astonished by it 
a fact which borders on the miraculous. Twenty authors, 
living at periods very distant from one another, composed the 
sacred books ; and, though they are written in twenty different 
styles, yet these styles, equally inimitable, are not to be met with 
in any other performance. The New Testament, so different in 
its spirit from the Old, nevertheless partakes with the latter of 
this astonishing originality. 

But this is not the only extraordinary thing which men unani 
mously discover in the Scriptures. Those who do not believe 



in the authenticity of the Bible nevertheless believe, in spite of 
themselves, that there is something more than common in this 
same Bible. Deists and atheists, great and little, all attracted 
by some hidden magnet, are incessantly referring to that work, 
which is admired by the one and reviled by the others. There 
is not a situation in life for which we may not find in the Bible a 
text apparently dictated with an express reference to it. It would 
be a difficult task to persuade us that all possible contingencies, 
both prosperous and adverse, had been foreseen, with all theii 
consequences, in a book penned by the hands of men. Now it is* 
certain that we find in the Scriptures 

The origin of the world and the prediction of its end : 

The groundwork of all the human sciences : 

Political precepts, from the patriarchal government to despot 
ism ; from the pastoral ages to the ages of corruption : 

The moral precepts, applicable in prosperity and adversity, and 
to the most elevated as well as the most humble ranks of life : 

Finally, all sorts of styles, which, forming an inimitable work 
of many different parts, have, nevertheless, no resemblance to 
the styles of men. 



AMONG these divine styles, three are particularly remarkable : 

1. The historic style, as that of Genesis, Deuteronomy, Job, &c. 

2. Sacred poetry, as it exists in the Psalms, in the Prophets, 
in the moral treatises, &c. 

3. The evangelical or gospel style 

The first of these three styles has an indescribable charm, 
sometimes imitating the narrative of the epic, as in the history 
of Joseph, at others bursting into lyric numbers, as after the 
passage of the Red Sea ; here sighing forth the elegies of the 
holy Arab, there with Ruth singing affecting pastorals. That 
chosen people, whose every step is marked with miracles, that 
people, for whom the sun stands still, the rock pours forth waters, 


and the heavens shower down manna, could not have any ordinary 
annals. All known forms are changed in regard to them : their 
revolutions are alternately related with the trumpet, the lyre, and 
the pastoral pipe ; and the style of their history is itself a con 
tinual miracle, that attests the truth of the miracles the memory 
of which it perpetuates. 

Our astonishment is marvellously excited from one end of the 
Bible to the other. What can be compared to the opening of 
Genesis ? That simplicity of language, which is in an inverse 
ratio to the magnificence of the objects, appears to us the utmost 
effort of genius. 

" In the beginning God created heaven and earth. 

"And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon 
the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the 

"And God said, Be light made, and there was light. 

"And God saw the light that it was good, and he divided the 
light from the darkness." 

The beauty of this style cannot be described ; and, if it were 
criticized, we should scarcely know how to answer. We shall 
merely observe that God, seeing the light, and, like a man satisfied 
with his work, congratulating himself and finding it good, is one 
of those traits which are not in the order of human things ; it 
does not come naturally to the mind. Homer and Plato, who 
speak with so much sublimity of the gods, have nothing com 
parable to this majestic simplicity. God stoops to the language 
of men, to reduce his wonders to the level of their comprehen 
sion ; but he still is God. 

When we reflect that Moses is the most ancient historian in 
the world, and that he has mingled no fabulous story with his 
narrative ; when we consider him as the deliverer of a great peo 
ple, as the author of one of the most excellent legislative codes 
that we know of, and as the most sublime writer that ever ex 
isted ; when we behold him floating in his cradle upon the Nile, 
afterward concealing himself for many years in the deserts, then 
returning to open a passage through the sea, to produce streams 
of water from the rock, to converse with God in a cloud, and 
finally to disappear on the summit of a mountain, we cannot for 
bear feeling the highest astonishment. But when, with a refer- 


ence to Christianity, we come to reflect that the history of the 
Israelites is not only the real history of ancient days, but likewise 
the type of modern times ; that each fact is of a twofold nature, 
containing within itself an historic truth and a mystery; that the 
Jewish people is a symbolical epitome of the human race, repre 
senting in its adventures all that has happened and all that evei 
will happen in the world ; that Jerusalem must always be taken 
for another city, Sion for another mountain, the Land of Promise 
for another region, and the call of Abraham for another vocation; 
when it is considered that the moral man is likewise disguised 
under the j>hy steal man in this history; that the fall of Adam, 
the blood of Abel, the violated nakedness of Noah, and the 
malediction pronounced by that father against a son, are still 
manifested in the pains of parturition, in the misery and pride 
of man, in the oceans of blood which since the first fratricide 
have inundated the globe, and in the oppressed races descended 
from Cham, who inhabit one of the fairest portions of the earth; 1 
lastly, when we behold the Son promised to David appearing at 
the appointed time to restore genuine morality and the true reli 
gion, to unite all the nations of the earth, and to substitute the 
sacrifice of the internal man for blood-stained holocausts, we are 
at a loss for words, and are ready to exclaim, with the prophet, 
"God is our king before ages !" 

In Job the historic style of the Bible changes, as we have ob 
served, into elegy. No writer not even Jeremias, he alone whose 
lamentations, according to Bossuet, come up to his feelings has 
carried the sadness of the soul to such a pitch as the holy Arab. 
It is true that the imagery, borrowed from a southern clime, from 
the sands of the desert, the solitary palm-tree, the sterile moun 
tain, is in singular unison with the language and sentiment of an 
afflicted soul ; but in the melancholy of Job there is something 
supernatural. The individual man, however wretched, cannot 
draw forth such sighs from his soul. Job is the emblem of suf- 
f> rim/ humanity; and the inspired writer has found lamentations 
sufficient to express all the afflictions incident to the whole human 
race. As, moreover, in Scripture every thing has a final refer 
ence to the new covenant, we are authorized in believing that the 

1 The negroes. 


elegies of Job were composed also for the days of mourning of 
the Church of Jesus Christ. Thus God inspired his prophets with 
funeral hymns worthy of departed Christians, two thousand years 
before these sacred martyrs had conquered life eternal. 

" Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in 
which it was said, A man-child is conceived." 1 

Extraordinary kind of lamentation ! Such expressions are to 
be met with only in the Scripture. 

" For now I should have been asleep and still, and should have 
rest in my sleep." 

This expression, should have rest in MY sleep, is particularly 
striking. Omit the word my, and the whole beauty of it is de 
stroyed. Sleep YOUR sleep, ye opulent of the earth, says Bossuet, 
and remain in YOUR dust. 2 

" Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life to them 
that are in bitterness of soul ?" s 

Never did an exclamation of deeper anguish burst from the 
recesses of a human bosom. 

" Man born of a woman, living for a short time, is filled with 
many miseries/ 4 

The circumstance born of a woman is an impressive redund 
ance ; we behold all the infirmities of man in the infirmity of his 
mother. The most elaborate style would not express the vanity 
of life with such force as those few words u living for a short 
time, is filled with many miseries." 

Every reader is acquainted with that exquisite passage in 
which God deigns to justify his power to Job by confounding the 
reason of man ] we shall therefore say nothing concerning it in 
this place. 

The third species of historical style that we find in the Bible 
is the bucolic; but of this we shall have occasion to speak at 
some length in the two following chapters. 

As to the second general style of the Holy Scriptures, namely, 
sacred poetry, a great number of excellent critics having exerted 
their abilities on this subject ; it would be superfluous for us to go 
over the grou id again. Who is unacquainted with the choruses of 

1 Job iii. 3. 2 Funer. Orat. for the Chancellor Le Tellier. 

* Job iii. 20. 4 Job xiv. 8. 


Esther and Athalie ? Who has not read the odes of Rousseau 
and of Malherbe ? Dr. Lowth s Essay is in the hands of every 
scholar, 1 and La Harpe has left us an excellent prose translation 
of the Psalmist. 

The third and last style of the sacred volume is that of the 
New Testament. Here the sublimity of the prophets is softened 
into a tenderness not less sublime ; here love itself speaks ; here 
the Word is really made flesh. What beauty! What simplicity ! 

Each evangelist has a distinct character, except St. Mark, 
whose gospel seems to be only an abridgment of St. Matthew s. 
St. Mark, however, was a disciple of St. Peter, and several critics 
are of opinion that he wrote under the dictation of the prince of 
the apostles. It is worthy of remark that he has recorded the 
fall of his master. That Jesus Christ should have chosen for 
the head of his church the very one among his disciples who 
had denied him appears to us a sublime and affecting mystery. 
The whole spirit of Christianity is unfolded in this circumstance. 
St. Peter is the Adam of the new law; the guilty and penitent 
father of the new Israelites. 1 1 is fall teaches us, moreover, that 
the Christian religion is a religion of mercy, and that Jesus 
Christ has established his law among men subject to error less 
for the flowers of innocence than for the fruits of repentance. 

The Gospel of St. Matthew is particularly precious for its 
moral precepts. It contains a greater number of those pathetic 
lessons which flowed so abundantly from the heart of Jesus than 
any other gospel. 

The narrative of St. John has something sweeter and more 
tender. In him we really behold the disciple whom Jesus loved; 
the disciple whom he wished to have with him in the garden of 
Olives during his agony. Sublime distinction ! for it is only the 

1 The deep and various learning of Bishop Lowth, and hia elegant and re 
fined taste, give him the strongest claims to the praise here attributed to his 
work on the sacred poetry of the Hebrews. 

What," said he, "is there in the whole compass of poetry, or what can the 
human mind conceive more grand, more noble, or more animated, what is there 
more beautiful or interesting, than the sacred writings of the Hebrew prophets ? 
They equal the almost inexpressible greatness of the subjects by the splendor 
of their diction and the majesty of their poetry; and, as some of them are of 
higher antiquity than even the Fables of the Greeks, so they excel the Greek 
compositions as much in sublimity as n age." Lowth n Preelections. S. 


friend of our soul that we deem worthy of entering into the 
secret of our grief. John was also the only apostle who accom 
panied the Son of Man to Calvary. It was there that the Saviour 
confided to him his mother. "Woman, behold thy son I" after 
that, he saith to the disciple, " Behold thy mother I" Heavenly 
words, full of love and confidence ! The beloved disciple had 
received an indelible impression of his Master from having 
reposed on his bosom j hence, he was the first to recognise him 
after his resurrection. The heart of John could not mistake the 
features of his divine friend; his faith was the offspring of his 
charity. The whole Gospel of St. John is characterized by the 
spirit of that maxim which he repeated so continually in his old 
age. Full of days and good works, and no longer able to dis 
course at length to the people whom he had brought forth in 
Christ, he contented himself with saying, "My little children, 
love one another." 

St. Jerome informs us that St. Luke belonged to the medical 
profession, (which was so noble and excellent in ancient times,) 
and that his gospel is a medicine for the soul. The language of 
this evangelist is pure and elevated, and indicates him to have 
been a man of letters and acquainted with the affairs and the 
men of his time. He commences his narrative after the manner 
of the ancient historians, and you imagine yourself reading an 
introduction of Herodotus: 

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in 
order a narrative of the things that have been accomplished 
among us; according as they have delivered them unto us, who 
from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word; 
it seemed good to me also, having diligently attained to all things 
from the beginning, to write to thee in order, most excellent 

Such is the ignorance of our times that many who pretend to 
a liberal education will be surprised to learn that St. Luke is a 
writer of high rank, and that his gospel breathes the genius of 
Grseco-Hebrseic antiquity. What narrative is more beautiful 
than the whole passage which precedes the birth of Christ ? 

" There was in the days of Herod the king of Judea, a certain 
priest named Zachary, of the course of Abia, and his wife was of 
the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they 


were both just before God; .... and they had nc son, for that 
Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well advanced in years." 

Zachary is offering up sacrifice in the temple, when an angel 
appears to him " standing on the right side of the altar of 
incense." He announces that he shall have a son, and that this 
son shall be called John, who will be the precursor of the 
Messiah and will turn "the hearts of the fathers unto the chil 
dren." The same angel then repairs to the humble dwelling of 
an Israelitic virgin, and says to her, "Hail, full of grace, the 
Lord is with thee!" Mary hastens to the mountains of Judea, 
where she meets Elizabeth, and the infant in the womb of the 
latter leaps with joy at the salutation of her who was to bring 
furth the Saviour of the world. Filled all at once with the Holy 
Ghost, Elizabeth exclaims, "Blessed art thou among women, and 
blessed is the fruit of thy womb ! And whence is this to rne, 
that the mother of my Lord should coiue to me ? For behold, as 
soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant 
in niy womb leaped for joy." Then Mary entones that magnifi 
cent canticle, "My soul doth magnify the Lord," &c. Here 
follows the history of the Redeemer s birth and of the shepherds 
who come to adore him. A numerous multitude of the celestial 
army are heard singing, " Glory to God in the highest, and on 
earth peace to men of good will:" a hymn worthy of the angels, 
and an abridgment, as it were, of the Christian religion. 

We know something of antiquity, and we venture to assert 
that a long search would be necessary among the brightest geniuses 
of Rome and Greece,before any thing could be found to rival the 
simplicity and grandeur of the passage which we have just quoted 

Whoever reads the gospel with attention will discover some 
thing admirable at every moment,which at first might escape his 
notice on account of its extreme simplicity. St. Luke, for instance, 
in recording the genealogy of Christ, ascends to the very origin 
of the world. Having reached the primitive generations, and 
continuing the names of the different races, he says: "Cainan, 
who was of Henos, who was of Seth, who was of Adam, who was 
of GOD. The simple expression, who was of God, without com 
ment or reflection, to relate the creation, the origin, the nature, 
the end. and the mystery, of man, appears to us an illustration of 
the grandest sublimity. 


The religion of the Son of Mary is the essence, as it were, of all 
religions, or that which is most celestial in them all. The cha 
racter of the evangelical style may be delineated in a few words : 
it is a tone of parental authority mingled with a certain fraternal 
indulgence, with I know not what commiseration of a God who, 
to redeem us, deigned to become the son and the brother of men. 

To conclude : the more we read the epistles of the apostles, and 
especially those of St. Paul, the more we are astonished; we look 
in wonder upon the man who, in a kind of common exhortation, 
familiarly introduces the most sublime thoughts, penetrates into 
the deepest recesses of the human heart, explains the nature of 
the Supreme Being, and predicts future events. 1 


Terms of Comparison. 

So much has been written on the Bible, it has been so re 
peatedly commented upon, that the only method perhaps now 
left to produce a conviction of its beauties is to compare it with 
the works of Homer. Consecrated by ages, these poems have 
become invested with a venerable character which justifies the 
parallel and removes all idea of profanation. If Jacob and Nestor 
are not of the same family, both at least belong to the early ages 
of the world, and you feel that it is but a step from the palace 
of Pylos to the tents of Israel. 

In what respect the Bible is more beautiful than Homer what 
resemblances and what differences exist between it and the pro 
ductions of that poet, such are the subjects which we purpose to 
examine in these chapters. Let us contemplate those two mag 
nificent monuments, which stand like solitary columns at the 
entrance to the temple of genius, and form its simple, its majestic 

1 See note U. 


In the first place, it is a curious spectacle to behold the com 
petition of the two most ancient languages in the world, the lan 
guages in which Moses and Lycurgus published their laws and 
David and Pindar chanted their hymns. The Hebrew, concise, 
energetic, with scarcely any inflection in its verbs, expressing 
twenty shades of a thought by the mere apposition of a letter, 
proclaims the idiom of a people who, by a remarkable combina 
tion, unite primitive simplicity with a profound knowledge of 

The Greek displays, in its intricate conjugations, in its endless 
inflections, in its diffuse eloquence, a nation of an imitative and 
social genius, a nation elegant and vain, fond of melody and 
prodigal of words. 

Would the Hebrew compose a verb, he needs but know the 
three radical letters which form the third person singular of the 
preterite tense. He then has at once all the tenses and moods, 
by introducing certain servile letters before, after, or between, 
those three radical letters. 

The Greek meets with much more embarrassment. He is 
obliged to consider the characteristic, the termination, the aug 
ment, and the pcnultima, of certain persons in the tenses of tho 
verbs; modifications the more difficult to be discovered, as the 
characteristic is lost, transposed, or takes up an unknown let 
ter, according to the very letter before which it happens to be 

These two conjugations, Hebrew and Greek, the one so simple 
and so short, the other so compounded and .so prolix, seem to 
bear the stamp of the genius and manners of the people by whom 
they were respectively formed. The first retraces the concise lan 
guage of the Patriarch who goes alone to visit his neighbor at the 
well of the palm-tree; the latter reminds you of the prolix elo 
quence of the Pelasgian on presenting himself at the door of 
his host. 

If you take at random any Greek or Hebrew substantive, you 
will be still better able to discover the genius of the two lan 
guages. Nesher, in Hebrew, signifies an caylc; it is derived 
from the verb shur, to contemplate, because the eagle gazes stead 
fastly at the sun. The Greek for eayle is uterus, rapid fliyht. 

The children of Israel were struck with what is most sublime 
30* X 


in tlie eagle; they beheld him motionless on the mountain rock 
watching the orb of day on his return. 

The Athenians perceived only the impetuous flight of the bird 
and that motion which harmonized with the peculiar movement 
of their own thoughts. Such are precisely those images of sun, 
fire, and mountains, so frequently employed in the Bible, and 
those allusions to sounds, courses, and passages, which so re 
peatedly occur in Homer. 1 

Our terms of comparison will be, Simplicity; Antiquity of 
Manners ; Narration ; Description ; Comparisons or Images ; the 
Sublime. Let us examine the first of these terms. 


The simplicity of the Bible is more concise and more solemn ; 
the simplicity of Homer more diffuse and more lively : the 
former is sententious, and employs the same terms for the 
expression of new ideas; the latter is fond of expatiating, and 
often repeats in the same phrases what has been said before. 
The simplicity of Scripture is that of an ancient priest, who, 
imbued with all the sciences, human and divine, pronounces from 
the recess of the sanctuary the precise oracles of wisdom. The 
simplicity of the poet of Chios is that of an aged traveller, who, 
beside the hearth of his host, relates all that he has learned in 
the course of a long and chequered life. 


The sons of the shepherds of the East tend their flocks like the 
sons of the king of Ilium. But if Paris returns to Troy, it is to 
reside in a palace among slaves and in the midst of luxury. A 
tent, a frugal table, rustic attendants, this is all that Jacob s 
children have to expect at the paternal home. 

No sooner does a visitor arrive at the habitation of a prince in 
Homer than the women, and sometimes even the king s daughter 
herself, lead the stranger to the bath. He is anointed with 

1 Au:rdf seems to come from the Hebrew H AIT, to go forth impetuously, unless 
it be derived from ATE, soothsayer, or ATH, prodigy. The art of divination 
might thus be traced to an etymology. The Latin aquila comes evidently from 
the Hebrew aiouke, animal with claws, by giving it the Latin termination a, 
pronouncing the like ou, and transposing the k and changing it into q. 


perfumes, water is brought him in ewers of gold and silver, he 
is invested with a purple mantle, conducted to the festive hall, 
and seated in a beautiful chair of ivory raised upon a step of 
curious workmanship. Slaves mingle wine and water in goblets, 
and present the gifts of Ceres in a basket; the master of the 
house helps him to the juicy portion of the victim, of which he 
gives him five times more than to any of the others. The great 
est ct eerfulness prevails during the repast, and hunger is soon 
appeased in the midst of plenty. When they have finished eat 
ing, the stranger is requested to relate his history. At length, 
when he is about to depart, rich presents are made him, let his 
appearance at first have been ever so mean ; for it is supposed 
that he is either a god who comes thus disguised to surprise the 
heart of kings, or at least an unfortunate man, and consequently 
a favorite of Jupiter. 

Beneath the tent of Abraham the reception is different. The 
patriarch himself goes forth to meet his guest; he salutes him, 
and then pays his adorations to God. The sons lead away the 
camels, and the daughters fetch them water to drink. The feet 
of the traveller are washed; he seats himself on the ground, and 
partakes in silence of the repast of hospitality. No inquiries are 
made concerning his history; no questions are asked him; he 
stays or pursues his journey as he pleases. At his departure a 
covenant is made with him, and a stone is erected as a memorial 
of the treaty. This simple altar is designed to inform future 
ages that two men of ancient times chanced to meet in the road 
of life, and that, after having behaved to one another like two 
brothers, they parted never to come together again, and to inter 
pose vast regions between their graves. 

Take notice that the unknown guest is a sfranger with Homer 
and a traveller in the Bible. What different views of humanity! 
The Greek implies merely a political and local idea, where the 
Hebrew conveys a moral and universal sentiment. 

In Homer, all civil transactions take place with pomp and 
parade. A judge seated in the midst of the public place pro 
nounces his sentences with a loud voice. Nestor on the seashore 
presides at sacrifices or harangues the people. Nuptial rites are 
accompanied with torches, epithalamiums, and garlands sus 
pended from the doors; an army, a whole nation, attends the 


funeral of a king; an oath is taken in the name of the Furies, 
with dreadful imprecations. 

Jacob, under a palm-tree at the entrance of his tent, adminis 
ters justice to his shepherds. " Put thy hand under my thigh," 
said the aged Abraham to his servant, "and swear to go into 
Mesopotamia" 1 Two words are sufficient to conclude a marriage 
by the side of a fountain. The servant conducts the bride to the 
son of his master, or the master s son engages to tend the flocks 
of his father-in-law for seven years in order to obtain his daugh 
ter. A patriarch is carried by his sons after his death to the 
sepulchre of his ancestors in the field of Ephron. These cus 
toms are of higher antiquity than those delineated by Homer, 
because they are more simple ; they have also a calmness and 
a solemnity not to be found in the former. 


The narrative of Homer is interrupted by digressions, ha 
rangues, descriptions of vessels, garments, arms, and sceptres, 
by genealogies of men and things. Proper names are always 
surcharged with epithets. A hero seldom fails to be divine, like 
the immortals, or honored by the nations as a God. A princess 
is sure to have handsome arms; her shape always resembles the 
trunk of the palm-tree of Delos, and she owes her locks to the 
younyest of the graces. 

The narrative of the Bible is rapid, without digression, with 
out circumlocution; it is broken into short sentences, and the 
persons are named without flattery. These names are inces 
santly recurring, and the pronoun is scarcely ever used instead 
of them, a circumstance which, added to the frequent repetition 
of the conjunction and, indicates by this extraordinary simplicity 
a society much nearer to the state of nature than that sung by 
Homer. All the selfish passions are awakened in the characters 
of the Odyssey, whereas they are dormant in those of Genesis. 

1 The custom of swearing by the generation of men is a natural image of the 
manners of that primeval age when a great portion of the earth was still a 
desert waste, and man was the chief and most precious object in the eyes of 
his fellow-man. This custom was also known among the Greeks, as we learn 
from the life of Crates ; Diog. Laer., 1. vi. 



The descriptions of Homer are prolix, whether they be of the 
pathetic or terrible character, melancholy or cheerful, energetic 
or sublime. 

The Bible, in all its different species of description, gives in 
general but one single trait; but this trait is striking, and dis 
tinctly exhibits the object to our view. 


The comparisons of Homer are lengthened out by incidental 
circumstances; they are little pictures hung round an edifice to 
refresh the eye of the spectator, fatigued with the elevation of 
the domes, by calling his attention to natural scenery and rural 

The comparisons of the Bible are generally expressed in few 
words; it is a lion, a torrent, a storm, a conflagration, that roars, 
falls, ravages, consumes. Circumstantial similes, however, are 
also met with; but, then, an oriental turn is adopted, and tho 
object is personified, as pride in the cedar, &c. 


Finally, the sublime in Homer commonly arises from the gene 
ral combination of the parts, and arrives by degrees at its acme. 

In the Bible it is always unexpected; it bursts upon you like 
lightning, and you are left wounded by the thunderbolt before 
you know how you were struck by it. 

In Homer, again, the sublime consists in the magnificence of 
the words harmonizing with the majesty of thought. 

In the Bible, on the contrary, the highest sublimity often arises 
from a vast discordance between the majesty of the ideas and the 
littleness, nay, the triviality, of the word that expresses them. The 
soul is thus subjected to a terrible shock ; for when, exalted by 
thought, it has soared to the loftiest regions, all on a sudden the 
expression, instead of supporting it, lets it fall from heaven to 
earth, precipitating it from the bosom of the divinity into the 
mire of this world. This species of sublime the most impetuous 
of all is admirably adapted to an immense and awful being, allied 
at once to the greatest and the most trivial objects. 




A FEW examples will now complete the development of our 
parallel. We shall reverse the order which we before pursued, 
that is, we shall begin with addresses, from which short and de 
tached passages may be quoted, in the nature of the sublime and 
the simile, and conclude with the simplicity and antiquity of 

There is a passage remarkably sublime in the Iliad; it is that 
which represents Achilles, after the death of Patroclus, appearing 
unarmed at the entrenchments of the Greeks, and striking terror 
into the Trojan battalions by his shouts. 1 The golden cloud 
which encircles the brows of Pelides, the flame which plays upon 
his head, the comparison of this flame with a fire kindled at night 
on the top of a besieged tower, the three shouts of Achilles which 
thrice throw the Trojan army into confusion, form altogether 
that Homeric sublime which, as we have observed, is composed 
of the combination of several beautiful incidents with magnifi 
cence of words. 

Here is a very different species of the sublime ; it is the move 
ment of the ode in its highest enthusiasm. 

" The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee also, 
that thou, too, art wholly gone up to the house-tops ? Full of 
clamor, a populous city, a joyous city : thy slain are not slain by 

the sword, nor dead in battle Behold, the Lord .... 

will crown thee with a crown of tribulation ; he will toss thee like 
a ball into a large and spacious country; there shalt thou die, 
and there shall the chariot of thy glory be, the shame of the 
house of thy Lord." 2 

Into what unknown world does the prophet all at once trans 
port you ? Who is it that speaks, and to whom are these words 
addressed ? Movement follows upon movement, and each verse 

1 Iliad, lib. xviii. 204. 2 i sa i as xxii> 1} 2 , 18. 


produces greater astonishment than that which precedes it The 
city is no longer an assemblage of edifices ; it is a female, or 
rather a mysterious character, for the sex is not specified. This 
person is represented going to the house-tops to mourn; the pro 
phet, sharing her agitation, asks in the singular, " Wherefore dost 
thou ascend"? and he adds wholly, in the collective: " He shall 
throw you like a ball into a spacious field, and to this shall the 
chariot of your glory be reduced." Here are combinations of 
words and a poetry truly extraordinary. 

Homer has a thousand sublime ways of characterizing a violent 
death ; but the Scripture has surpassed them all in this single 
expression : " The first-born of death shall devour his strength." 

The fi rst-born of death, to imply the most cruel death, is one 
of those metaphors which are to be found nowhere but in the 
Bible. We cannot conceive whither the human mind has been 
in quest of this ; all the paths that lead to this species of the 
sublime are unexplored and unknown. 1 

It is thus also that the Scriptures term death the king of ter 
rors; * and thus, too, they say of the wicked man, he hath con 
ceived sorrow, and brought forth iniquity. 3 

When the same Job would excite a high idea of the greatness 
of God, he exclaims : Hell is naked before him,,* he withhohl- 
eth the waters in the clouds, 5 he taketh the scarf from kings, 
and girdeth their loins with a cord. 9 

The soothsayer Theoclimenus is struck, while partaking of the 
banquet of Penelope, with the sinister omens by which the suitois 
are threatened. He addresses them in this apostrophe : 

race to death devote ! with Stygian shade 

Each destined peer impending fates invade : 

With tears your wan, distorted cheeks are drowned ; 

With sanguine drops the walls are rubied round: 

Thick swarms the spacious hall with howling ghosts, 

To people Orcus and the burning coasts ! 

Nor gives the sun his golden orb to roll, 

But universal night usurps the pole. 7 

1 Job xviii. 13. We have followed here the Hebrew text, with the poly- 
glott of Xi incur.-, the versions of Sanotes Pagnin, Arius Montanus, A3. The 
Vulgate has, " first-born death," primoyenita mort. 

8 Ibid. v. 14. 3 Ibid. xv. 35. Ibid. xxvi. . 

6 Ibid. xii. 15. e ibid. xii. 18. 

7 Pope s Homer Ody**., book xx. 423-430. 


Awful as this sublime may be, still it is inferior in this respect 
to the vision of Eliphaz, in the book of Job : 

" In the horror of a vision by night, when deep sleep is wont 
to hold men, fear seized upon me, and trembling, and all my 
bones were affrighted ; and when a spirit passed before me, the 
hair of my flesh stood up. There stood one whose countenance 
I knew not, an image before my eyes, and I heard the voice as 
it were of a gentle wind." 1 

Here we have much less blood, less darkness, and fewer tears, 
than in Homer ; but that unknown countenance and gentle wind 
are, in fact, much more awful. 

As to that species of the sublime which results from the col 
lision of a great idea and a feeble image, we shall presently see 
a fine example of it when we come to treat of comparisons. 

If the bard of Ilium represents a youth slain by the javelin of 
Menelaus, he compares him to a young olive-tree covered with 
flowers, planted in an orchard, screened from the intense heat of 
the sun, amid dew and zephyrs , but, suddenly overthrown by an 
impetuous wind upon its native soil, it falls on the brink of the 
nutritive waters that conveyed the sap to its roots. Such is the 
long simile of -Homer, with its elegant and charming details : 

Ka\ov f rr/AcSaoj/, TO&Z re Ttvoiai tiovtaai 

KO.I r/?pua avSet \SVKO). 

As the young olive in some sylvan scene, 
Crowned by fresh fountains with eternal green, 
Lifts the gay head in snowy flow rets fair, 
And plays and dances to the gentle air ; 
When lo! a whirlwind from high heaven invades 
The tender plant, and withers all its shades j 
It lies uprooted from its genial bed, 
A lovely ruin, now defaced and dead. 2 

In reading these lines, we seem to hear the sighings of the 
wind through the summit of the olive. 

The Bible, instead of all this, has but a single trait. " The 
wicked," it says, " shall be blasted as a vine when its grapes are 
in the first flower, and as an olive-tree that casteth its flowers." 3 

" With shaking shall the earth be shaken as a drunken man," 

i Job iv. 13-16. * Iliad, lib. xvii. 55, 56. 3 j b xv . 33. 


exclaims Isaias, " and shall be removed as the tent of one 
night." 1 

Here is the sublime in contrast. At the words, it shall be re 
moved, the mind remains suspended, and expects some great 
comparison, when the prophet adds, like the tent of one night. 
You behold the earth, which to us appears so vast, spread out in 
tie air, and then carried away with ease by the mighty God by 
whom it was extended, and with whom the duration of ages is 
scarcely as a rapid night. 

Of the second species of comparison which we have ascribed 
to the Bible, that is, the long simile, we meet with the following 
instance in Job : 

" He (the wicked man) seemeth to have moisture before the 
Bun cometh, and at his rising his blossom shall shoot forth. His 
roots shall be thick upon a heap of stones, and among the stones 
he shall abide. If one swallow him up out of his place, he shall 
deny him, and shall say, I know thee not." 2 

How admirable is this simile, or, rather, this prolonged meta 
phor ! Thus, the wicked are denied by those sterile hearts, by 
those heaps of stones, in which, during their guilty prosperity, 
they foolishly struck root. Those flints which all at once acquire 
the faculty of speech exhibit a species of personification almost 
unknown to the Ionian bard. 3 

Ezekiel, prophesying the destruction of Tyre, exclaims : 
"Now shall the ships be astonished in the day of thy terror; 
and v the islands in the sea shall be troubled, because no one 
cometh out of thee." 4 

Can any thing be more awful and more impressive than this 
image? You behold in imagination that city, once so flourishing 
and so populous, still standing with all her towers and all her 
edifices, but not a living creature traversing her desert streets 
or passing through her solitary gates. 

Let us proceed to examples of the narrative kind, which ex 
hibit a combination of sentiment, description, imagery, simjrficity, 
and antiquity of manners. 

1 Isaiaa xxiv. 20. 2 Job viii. 16-18. 

3 Homer has represented the shore of the Hellespont as weeping. 

4 Ezek. xxvi. 18. 



The most celebrated passages, the most striking and most ad 
mired traits in Homer, occur almost word for word in the Bible, 
but here they invariably possess an incontestable superiority. 

Ulysses is seated at the festive board of king Alcinoiis, while 
Demodocus sings the Trojan war and the misfortunes of the 
Greeks : 

Touched at the song, Ulysses straight resigned 
To soft affliction all his manly mind : 
Before his eyes the purple vest he drew, 
Industrious to conceal the falling dew; 
But when the music paused, he ceased to shed 
The flowing tear, and raised his drooping head ; 
And, lifting to the gods a goblet crowned, 
He poured a pure libation to the ground. 
Transported with the song, the listening train 
Again with loud applause demand the strain : 
Again Ulysses veiled his pensive head, 
Again unmanned, a shower of sorrow shed. 1 

Beauties of this nature have, from age to age, secured to 
Homer the first place among the greatest geniuses. It reflects 
no discredit upon his memory that he has been surpassed in 
such pictures by men who wrote under the immediate inspiration 
of heaven. But vanquished he certainly is, and in such a man 
ner as to leave criticism no possible subterfuge. 

They who sold Joseph into Egypt, the own brothers of that 
powerful man, return to him without knowing who he is, and 
bring young Benjamin with them, according to his desire. 

" Joseph, courteously saluting them again, asked them, saying, 
Is the old man, your father, in health, of whom you told me? 
is he yet living? 

" And they answered, Thy servant, our father, is in health, 
he is yet living. And, bowing themselves, they made obeisance 
to him. 

"And Joseph, lifting up his eyes, saw Benjamin, his brother 
by the same mother, and said, Is this your young brother of 
whom you told me? And he said, God be gracious to thee, 
my son. 

"And he made haste, because his heart was moved upon his 
brother, and tears gushed out; and, going into his chamber, he 

1 Pope s Homer t Odyaa., b. viii. 79-90. 


" And when he had washed his face, coming out again, he re 
frained himself, and said, Set bread on the table." 1 

Here are Joseph s tears in opposition to those of Ulysses 
Here are beauties of the very same kind, and yet what a differ 
ence in pathos ! Joseph weeping at the sight of his ungrateful 
brethren and of the young and innocent Benjamin this man 
ner of inquiring concerning his father this adorable simplicity 
this mixture of grief and kindness are things wholly ineffable. 
The tears naturally start into your eyes, and you are ready to 
weep like Joseph. 

Ulysses, disguised in the house of Eumaeus, reveals himself to 
Telemachus. He leaves the habitation of the herdsman, strips 
off his rags, and, restored to his beauty by a touch of Minerva s 
wand, he returns magnificently attired. 

The prince, o erawed, 
Scarce lifts his eyes, and bows as to a god. 
Then with surprise, (surprise chastised by fears,) 
How art thou changed! he cries; a god appears! 
Far other vests thy limbs mnjestic grace; 
Far other glories lighten from thy face ! 
If heaven be thy abode, with pious care, 
Lo! I the ready sacrifice prepare; 
Lo ! gifts of labored gold adorn thy shrine, 
To win thy grace. Oh save us, power divine 

Few are my days, Ulysses made reply, 
Nor I, alas ! descendant of the sky. 
I am thy father. Oh my son ! my son ! 
That father for whose sake thy days have run 
One scene of wo to endless cares consigned 
And outraged by the wrongs of base mankind. 
Then, rushing to his arms, he kissed his boy 
With the strong raptures of a parent s joy. 
Tears bathe his cheek, and tears the ground bedew 
He strained him close, as to his breast ho grew. 2 

We shall recur to this interview; but let us first turn to that 
between Joseph and his brethren. 

Joseph, after a cup has been secretly introduced by his direc 
tion into Benjamin s sack, orders the sons of Jacob to be stopped. 
The latter are thunder-struck. Joseph affects an intention to 

1 Genesis xlii i. 26-31. 2 Pope s HomeSa Odytsey, book xvi. 194-213 


detain the culprit. Juda offers himself as a hostage for Ben 
jamin. He relates to Joseph that, before their departure for 
Egypt, Jacob had said to them : 

" You know that my wife bore me two. 

" One went out, and you said a beast devoured him; and hither 
to he appeareth not. 

" If you take this, also, and any thing befall him in the way, 
you will bring down niy gray hairs with sorrow unto hell 

" Joseph could no longer refrain himself before many that stood 
by; whereupon he commanded that all should go out, and no 
stranger be present at their knowing one another. 

"And he lifted up his voice with weeping, which the Egyp 
tians and all the house of Pharao heard. 

"And he said to his brethren, I am Joseph; is my father yet 
living? His brethren could not answer him, being struck with 
exceeding great fear. 

"And he said mildly to them, Come ne arer to me. And 
when they were come near him he said, I am Joseph, your bro 
ther, whom ye sold into Egypt. 

"Be not afraid; .... not by your counsel was I sent hither, 
but by the will of God. 

" Make haste and go ye up to my father. 

"And, falling upon the neck of his brother Benjamin, he em 
braced him and wept; and Benjamin in like manner wept also 
on his neck. 

"And Joseph kissed all his brethren, and wept upon every 
one of them." 1 

Such is the history of Joseph, which we find not in the work 
of a sophist, (for that which springs from the heart and from 
tears is not understood by him;) but we find this history in the 
volume which forms the groundwork of that religion so despised 
by sophists and freethinkers, and which would have a just right 
to return contempt for contempt, were not charity its essence. 
Let us examine in what respects the interview between Joseph 
and his brethren surpasses the discovery of Ulysses to Tele- 

Homer, in our opinion, has, in the first place, fallen into a great 

1 Genesis xliv. and xlv. 


error in employing the marvellous in his picture. In dramatic 
scenes, when the passions are agitated and all the wonders ought 
to emanate from the soul, the intervention of a divinity imparts 
coldness to the action, gives to the sentiment the air of fable, and 
discloses the falsehood of the poet where we expected to meet 
with nothing but truth. Ulysses, making himself known in his 
rags by some natural mark, would have been much more pathetic. 
Of this Homer was himself aware, since the king of Ithica was 
revealed to Euryclea, his nurse, by an ancient scar, and to Laertes 
by the little circumstance of the pear-trees which the good old 
man had given him when a child. We love to find that the heart 
of the destroyer of cities is formed like those of other men, and 
that the simple affections constitute its principal element. 

The discovery is much more ably conducted in Genesis. By 
an artifice of the most harmless revenge, a cup is put into the 
sack of the young and innocent Benjamin. The guilty brethren 
are overwhelmed with grief when they figure to themselves the 
affliction of their aged father; and the image of Jacob s sorrow, 
taking the heart of Joseph by surprise, obliges him to discover 
himself sooner than he had intended. As to the pathetic words, 
lam Joseph, everybody knows that they drew tears of admiration 
from Voltaire himself. Ulysses found in Telemachus a dutiful 
and affectionate son. Joseph is speaking to his brethren who 
had sold him. He does not say to them, / am your brother, but 
merely, I am Joseph; and this name awakens all their feelings. 
Like Telomachus, they are deeply agitated; but it is not the ma 
jesty of Pharao s minister; tis something within their own con 
sciences that occasions their consternation. He desires them to 
come near to him; for he raised his voice to such a pitch as to 
be heard by the whole house of Pharao when he said, I am Jo 
seph. His brethren alone are to heai the explanation, which he 
adds in a low tone; I am Joseph, YOUR BROTHER, WHOM YE SOLD 
INTO EGYPT. Here are delicacy, simplicity, and generosity, carried 
to the highest degree. 

Let us not fail to remark with what kindness Joseph cheers hit- 
brethren, and the excuses which he makes for them when he 
says that, so far from having injured him, they are, on the con 
trary, the cause of his elevation. The Scripture never fails to in 
troduce Providence in the perspective of its pictures. The great 


counsel of God, which governs all human affairs at the moment 
when they seem to be most subservient to the passions of men 
and the laws of chance, wonderfully surprises the mind. We 
love the idea of that hand concealed in the cloud which is inces 
santly engaged with men. We love to imagine ourselves some 
thing in the plans of Infinite Wisdom, and to feel that this transi 
tory life is a pattern of eternity. 

With God every thing is great; without God every thing is 
little : and this remark applies even to the sentiments. Suppose 
all the circumstances in Joseph s story to happen as they are re 
corded in Genesis, suppose the son of Jacob to be as kind, as 
tender, as he is represented, but, at the same time, to be &philoso- 
pher, and, instead of telling his brethren, lam here by the will 
of the Lord, let him say, fortune has favored me. The objects 
are instantly diminished; the circle becomes contracted, and the 
pathos vanishes together with the tears. 

Finally, Joseph kisses his brethren as Ulysses embraces Tele- 
machus; but he begins with Benjamin. A modern author 
would not have failed to represent him falling in preference upon 
the neck of the most guilty of the brothers, that his hero might 
be a genuine tragedy character. The Bible, more intimately ac 
quainted with the human heart, knew better how to appreciate 
that exaggeration of sentiment by which a man always appears to 
be striving to perform or to say what he considers something ex 
traordinary. Homer s comparison of the sobs of Telemachus and 
Ulysses with the cries of an eagle and her young, had, in our 
opinion, been better omitted in this place. " And he fell upon 
Benjamin s neck, and kissed him, and wept; and Benjamin wept 
also, as he held him in his embrace. 7 Such is the only magnifi 
cence of style adapted to such occasions. 

We might select from Scripture other narratives equally ex 
cellent with the history of Joseph; but the reader himself may 
easily compare them with passages in Homer. Let him take, 
for instance, the story of Ruth, and the reception of Ulysses by 
Eumseus. The book of Tobias displays a striking resemblance 
to several scenes of the Iliad and Odyssey. Priam is conducted 
by Mercury in the form of a handsome youth, as Tobias is ac 
companied by an angel in the like disguise. 

The Bible is particularly remarkable for certain modes of ex- 


pression far more pathetic, we think, than all the poetry of 
Homer. When the latter would delineate old age he says: 

Slow from bis seat arose the Pylean sage, 
Experienced Nestor, in persuasion skilled; 
Words sweet as honey from his lips distilled. 
Two generations now had passed ajray, 
Wise by his rules, and happy by his sway; 
Two ages o er his native realm he reigned, 
And now the example of the third remained.! 

This passage possesses the highest charms of antiquity, as well 
as the softest melody. The second verse, with the repetitions of 
the letter L, imitates the sweetness of honey and the pathetic 
eloquence of an old man : 

Tw Kal dird yAuWj; fitAiroj yAwn ow pvcv aidn. 

Pharao having asked Jacob his age, the patriarch replies : 

"The days of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years, 
few and evil ; and they are not come up to the days of the pil 
grimage of my fathers."* 

Here are two very different kinds of antiquity. The one lies 
in the image, the other in the sentiments; the one excites pleas 
ing ideas, the other melancholy; the one, representing the chief 
of the nation, exhibits the old man only in relation to a certain 
condition of life, the other considers him individually and exclu 
sively. Homer leads us to reflect rather upon men in general, 
and the Bible upon the particular person. 

Homer has frequently touched upon connubial joys, but has he 
produced any thing like the following? 

" Isaac brought Rebecca into the tent of Sarah, his mother, 
and took her to wife, and he loved her so much that it moderated 
the sorrow which was occasioned by his mother s death." 3 

We shall conclude this parallel, and the whole subject of 
Christian poetics, with an illustration which will show at once the 
difference that exists between the style of the Bible and that of 
Homer; we shall take a passage from the former and present 
it in colors borrowed from the latter. Ruth thus addresses 
Noemi : 

1 Iliad, b. i. 2 Gen. xlvii 9. Gen. xxiv. 67. 


"Be not against me to desire that I should leave thee and de 
part ; for whithersoever thou shalt go I will go, and where thou 
shalt dwell I also will dwell. Thy people shall be my people, 
and thy God my God. The law that shall receive thee dying, in 
the same will I die." 1 

Let us endeavor to render this passage in the language of 

The fair Ruth thus replies to the wise Noemi, honored by the 
people as a goddess : " Cease to oppose the determination with 
which a divinity inspires me. I will tell thee the truth, just as 
it is, and without disguise. I will remain with thee, whether 
thou shalt continue to reside among the Moabites, so dexterous in 
throwing the javelin, or shalt return to Judea, so fertile in olives. 
With thee I will demand hospitality of the nations who respect 
the suppliant. Our ashes shall be mingled in the same urn, and 
I will offer agreeable sacrifices to the God who incessantly accom 
panies thee. 

"She said; and as, when a vehement wind brings a cool re 
freshing rain from the western sky, the husbandmen prepare the 
wheat and the barley, and make baskets of rushes nicely inter 
woven, for they foresee that the falling shower will soften the 
soil and render it fit for receiving the precious gifts of Ceres, so 
the words of Ruth, like the fertilizing drops, melted the whole 
heart of Noemi." 

Something like this, perhaps, so far as our feeble talents allow 
us to imitate Homer, would be the style of that immortal genius. 
But has not the verse of Ruth, thus amplified, lost the original 
charm which it possesses in the Scripture? What poetry can 
ever be equivalent to that single stroke of eloquence, Populus 
tuus populus meus, Deus tuus Deus meus. It will now be 
easy to take a passage of Homer, to efface the colors, and to 
leave nothing but the groundwork, after the manner of the 

We have thus endeavored, to the best of our limited abilities, 
to make our readers acquainted with some of the innumerable 
beauties of the sacred Scriptures. Truly happy shall we be, if 

1 Ruth i. 16. 


wo have succeeded in exciting within them an admiration of that 
grand and sublime corner-stone which supports the church of Je 
sus Christ! 

" If the Scripture," says St. Gregory the Great, "comprehends 
mysteries capable of pe .plexing the most enlightened under 
standings, it also contains simple truths fit for the nourishment 
oi the humble and the, illiterate ; it carries externally wherewith 
to suckle infants, and in its most secret recesses wherewith to fill 
the most sublime geniuses with admiration ; like a river whose 
current is so shallow in certain parts that a lamb may cross it, 
and deep enDugh in others for an elephant to swim there/ 




MUSK 1 .. 

Of the Influence of Christianity upon Music. 

To the Fine Arts, the sisters of poetry, we have now to direct 
our attention. Following the steps of the Christian religion, 
they acknowledged her for their mother the moment she appeared 
in the world ; they lent her their terrestrial charms, and she con 
ferred on them her divinity. Music noted down her hymns ; 
Painting represented her in her mournful triumphs ; Sculpture 
delighted in meditating with her among the tombs; and Archi 
tecture built her temples sublime and melancholy as her thoughts. 

Plato has admirably denned the real nature of music. "We 
must not judge of music," said he, "by the pleasure which it 
affords, nor prefer that kind which has no other object than 
pleasure, but that which contains in itself a resemblance to the 

Music, in fact, considered as an art, is an imitation of nature; 
its perfection, therefore, consists in representing the most beauti 
ful nature possible. But pleasure is a matter of opinion which 
varies according to times, manners, and nations, and whiclfc can 
not be the beautiful, since the beautiful has an absolute existence. 
Hence every institution that tends to purify the soul, to banish 

MUSIC. 371 

fi om it trouble and discord, and to promote the growth of virtue, 
is by this very quality favorable to the best music, or to the most 
perfect imitation of the beautiful. But if this institution is 
moreover of a religious nature, it then possesses the two essential 
conditions of harmony : the beautiful and the mysterious. Song 
has come to us from the angels, and symphony has its source in 

It is religion that causes the vestal to sigh amid the night in 
her peaceful habitation; it is religion that sings so sweetly beside 
the bed of affliction. To her Jeremias owed his lamentations 
and David the sublime effusions of his repentance. If, prouder 
under the ancient covenant, she depicted only the sorrows of 
monarchs and of prophets, more modest, and not less royal, under 
the new law, her sighs are equally suited to the mighty and the 
weak, because in Jesus Christ she has found humility combined 
with greatness. 

The Christian religion, we may add, is essentially melodious, 
for this single reason, that she delights in solitude. Not that 
she has any antipathy to society; there, on the contrary, she 
appears highly amiable : but this celestial Philomela prefers the 
desert; she is coy and retiring beneath the roofs of men; she 
loves the forests better, for these are the palaces of her father 
and her ancient abode. Here she raises her voice to the skies 
amid the concerts of nature; nature is incessantly celebrating 
the praises of the Creator, and nothing can be more religious 
than the hymns chanted in concert with the winds by the oaks 
of the forest and the reeds of the desert. 

Thus the musician who would follow religion in all her rela 
tions is obliged to learn the art of imitating the harmonies of 
solitude. He ought to be acquainted with the melancholy notes 
of the waters and the trees; he ought to study the sound of 
the winds in the cloister and those murmurs that pervade the 
Gothic temple, the grass of the cemetery and the vaults of death. 

Christianity has invented the organ and given sighs to brass 
itself. To her music owed its preservation in the barbarous 
ages; wherever she has erected her throne, there have arisen a 
people who sing as naturally as the birds of the air. Song is the 
daughter of prayer, and prayer is the companion of religion. 
She has civilized the savage, only by the means of hymns; and 


the Iroquois who would not submit to her doctrines was over 
come by her concerts. religion of peace ! thou hast not, like 
other systems, inculcated the precepts of hatred and discord j 
thou hast taught mankind nothing but love and harmony. 



IP it were not proved by history that the Gregorian chant is 
a relic of that ancient music of which so many wonderful things 
are related, the examination of its scale would itself suffice to 
convince us of its great antiquity. 1 Before the time of Guido 
Aretino, it rose no higher than the fifth, beginning with ut : ut y 
re, mi, fa, sol, or c, d, e, f, g. These five notes are the natural 
gamut of the voice, and produce a full and musical scale. 3 

Burette has left us some Greek tunes. On comparing them 
with the plain chant, we find in both the same system. 
Most of the Psalms are sublimely solemn, particularly the Dixit 
Dominus Domino meo, the Confitebor tibi, and the Laudate pueri. 
The In Exitu, arranged by Rameau, is of a less antique character, 
belonging, perhaps, to the same age as the Ut queant laxis, that 

is to say, the age of Charlemagne. 

i __ . . 

1 The Gregorian chant is so called from St. Gregory the Great, who introduced 
it, and who flourished in the sixth century. The chief points in which it differs 
from modern music are the following: It has not as great a variety of notes; 
its melodies are more grave; and, chiefly, it excludes harmonization. It is 
also called plain-chant, and is often sung in unison hy the choir and congrega 
tion. T. 

2 Guido, a Benedictine monk of Italy, lived in the eleventh century. He 
introduced the gamut, and is supposed to have been acquainted with counter 
point. He was the first to employ the syllables ut, re, mi, <fcc. for the designa 
tion of musical notes, deriving them from the first stanza of the hymn in honor 
of St. John Baptist : 

Ut queant laxis resonare fibris, 
Mira, gestorum /amuli tuorum, 
Solve polluti Zabii reatum, 

Sancte Joannes. T. 


Christianity is serious as man, and her very smile is grave. 
Nothing is more exquisite than the sighs which our afflictions 
extort from religion. The whole of the service for the dead is 
a master-piece; you imagine that you hear the hollow murmurs 
of the grave. An ancient tradition records that the chant which 
delivers the dead, as it is termed by one of our best poets, is the 
same that was performed at the funeral obsequies of the Athenians 
about the time of Pericles. 

The chant of the Passion, or history of our Saviour s suffer 
ings, during the holy week, is worthy of remark. The recitative 
of the historian, the cries of the Jewish populace, the dignity of 
the answers of Jesus, form a musical drama of the most pathetic 

Pergolesi has displayed in his Stabat Mater all the riches of 
his art; but has he surpassed the simple music of the Church? 
He has varied the melody with each strophe; and yet the essen 
tial character of melancholy consists in the repetition of the same 
sentiment, and, if we may so express ourselves, in the monotony 
of grief. Various reasons may draw tears from our eyes, but 
our tears have always the same bitterness; besides, rarely do we 
weep over a number of sorrows at once; when the wounds are 
numerous, there is always one more severe than the rest, which 
at length absorbs all inferior pains. Such is the cause of the 
charm which pervades our old French ballads. The repetition 
of the notes at each couplet to different words is an exact imita 
tion of nature. 

Pergolesi, then, manifested a want of acquaintance with this 
truth, which is intimately connected with the theory of the 
passions, when he determined that not a sigh of the soul should 
resemble the sigh that had gone before it. Wherever variety is, 
there is distraction ; and wherever distraction is, sorrow is at an 
end : so necessary is unity to sentiment : so weak is man in this 
very part in which lies all his strength, we mean, in grief. 1 

1 These remarks of the author are unquestionably true when the musical 
aubject possesses a unity of incident as well as of sentiment. Here the repeti 
tion of the same notes is very expressive. But when the subject, like tho 
Stabat, recalls to the mind a variety of scenes, does not the perfection of the 
musical art require that <hese scenes should be represented with all the ex 
pressiveness of which it is capable? The Requiem of Mozart is a master-piece, 


The lesson of the Lamentations of Jeremiah is stamped with 
a peculiar character. It may have been retouched by the moderns, 
but to us the ground appears to be of Hebrew origin, for it bears 
no resemblance to the Greek tunes in the church music. The 
Pentateuch was sung at Jerusalem, like pastorals, in a full and 
soft strain; the prophecies were repeated in a harsh and emphatic 
tone; and the psalms had an ecstatic mode belonging exclusively 
to them. 1 Here we fall into those grand recollections which the 
Catholic worship assembles from all quarters : Moses and Homer, 
Lebanon and Cytheron, Solyma and Rome, Babylon and Athens, 
have deposited their remains at the foot of our altars. 

Finallv, it was enthusiasm itself that inspired the Te Deum. 
When, halting in the plains of Lens or Fontenoy, amid clouds 
of smoke and yet reeking blood, a French army, scathed with 
the thunderbolts of war, bowed the knee to the flourishes of 
clarions and trumpets, and joined in a hymn of praise to the 
God of battles, or when, in the midst of lamps, altars of gold, 
torches, perfumes, the swelling tones of the organ, and the full 
accompaniment of various instruments, this grand hymn shook 
the windows, the vaults, and the domes of some ancient cathe 
dral, there was not a soul but felt transported, not one but ex 
perienced some portion of that rapture which inspired Pindar in 
the groves of Olympia or David on the banks of the Cedron. 

The reader will observe that, in treating of the Greek chants 
only of the Church, we have not employed all our means, since 
we might have exhibited an Ambrose, a Dainasus, a Leo, a 
Gregory, laboring themselves for the restoration of the science 
of music ; we might have enumerated all those master-pieces of 
modern music composed for Christian solemnities, as well as all 
those great masters, Vinci, Leo, Hasse, Galuppi, and Durante, 
educated or patronized in the oratories of Rome and at the court 
of the sovereign pontiff. 3 

because it has an imitative power, an objective excellence, while at the same 
time its general tone is in accordani3e with the solemn feelings which the sub 
ject inspires. T. 

1 Bonnet s History of Music and its Effects. 

2 In the whole range of musical literature, nothing can be found to excel the 
compositions to which the worship and piety of the Catholic Church have given 
birth. T 




THE pleasing writers of Greece relate that a young female, 
perceiving the shadow of her lover upon a wall, chalked the out 
line of the figure. Thus, according to antiquity, a transient pas 
sion produced the art of the most perfect illusions. 

The Christian school has sought another master. It has dis 
covered him in that Great Artist who, moulding a morsel of 
earth in his mighty hands, pronounced those words, Let us make 
man in our own image ! For us, then, the first stroke of design 
existed in the -eternal idea of God ; and the first statue which 
the world beheld was that noble figure of clay animated by the 
breath of the Creator. 

There is a force of error which compels silence, like the force 
of truth ; both, carried to the highest pitch, produce conviction, 
the former negatively, the latter affirmatively. When, therefore, 
we hear it asserted that Christianity is inimical to the arts, we 
are struck dumb with astonishment, for we cannot forbear calling 
to mind Michael Angelo, Raphael, the Caracci, Domenichino, 
Lesueur, Poussin, Coustou, and crowds of other artists, whose 
names alone would fill whole volumes. 

About the middle of the fourth century, the Roman empire, 
invaded by barbarians and torn in pieces by heresy, crumbled 
into ruin on every side. The arts found no asylum except with 
the Christians and the orthodox emperors. Theodosius, by a 
special law, de excusatione artificum, exempted painters and 
their families from all taxes and from the quartering of troops. 
The fathers of the Church bestow never-ceasing praises on paint 
ing. St. Gregory thus expresses himself: " I frequently gazed 
at the figure, and could not pass it without shedding tears, as it 
placed the whole story before my eyes in the most lively manner." 1 
This was a picture representing the sacrifice of Abraham. St 

1 Second Nicene Coun. Act., xi. 


Basil goes still further; for he asserts that painters accomplish 
as much by their pictures as orators by their eloquence. 1 A 
monk, named Methodius, executed, in the ninth century, that 
Last Judgment which converted Bogoris, king of the Bulgarians. 3 
The clergy had collected at the college of Orthodoxy, at Constan 
tinople, the finest library in the world, and all the master-pieces 
of antiquity: here, in particular, was to be seen the Venus of 
Praxiteles, 8 which proves, at least, that the founders of the Ca 
tholic worship were neither barbarians without taste, bigoted 
monks, nor the Votaries of absurd superstition. 

This college was demolished by the iconoclast emperors. 4 The 
professors were burnt alive, and it was at the risk of meeting 
with a similar fate that some Christians saved the dragon s skin, 
one hundred and twenty feet long, on which the works of Homer 
were written in letters of gold. The pictures belonging to the 
churches were consigned to the flames. Stupid and furious 
bigots, nearly resembling the Puritans of Cromwell s time, hacked 
to pieces with their sabres the admirable mosaic-works in the 
. ,hurch of the Virgin Mary at Constantinople, and in the palace 
of Blaquernac. To such a height was this persecution carried 
that it involved the painters themselves ; they were forbidden, 
under pain of death, to prosecute their profession. Lazarus, a 
monk, had the courage to become a martyr to his art. In vain 
did Theophilus cause his hands to be burned, to prevent him 
from holding the pencil. This illustrious friar, concealed in the 
vault of St. John the Baptist, painted with his mutilated fingers 
the great saint whose protection he sought j 5 worthy, undoubtedly, 
of becoming the patron of painters, and of being acknowledged 
by that sublime family which the breath of the Spirit exalts abovo 
the rest of mankind. 

Tinder the empire of the Goths and Lombards, Christianity 
continued to lend her assisting hand to talent. These efforts are 
particularly remarkable in the churches erected by Theodoric, 

1 St. Basil, horn. 20. 

* Curopal. Codron. Zonar. Mftiml)., Hint, of the Jconocl. 

a Cedron. Zonar. Constant., and Maiiub., Hint, of the fconocl. 

4 The IconochmtH or I in age- breakers, a fanatical sect that originated in the 
Kovonth century. At a later period, the name was applied to all who were 
opposed to (ho veneration of images. T. 

8 Maimb., Hint, of the Iconocf., Ocdren. Curopal. 


Luitprand, and Desiderius. The same spirit of religion actuated 
Charlemagne ; and the Church of the APOSTLES, erected by that 
great prince at Florence, is, even at the present day, accounted a 
fine structure. 

At length, about the thirteenth century, the Christian religion, 
after encountering a thousand obstacles, brought back the choir 
of Muses in triumph to the earth. Every thing was done for the 
churches, both by the patronage of the pontiffs and of religious 
princes. Bouchet, a Greek by birth, was the first architect, 
Nicolas the first sculptor, and Cimabue the first painter, that re 
covered the antique style from the ruins of Rome and Greece. 
From that time the arts were raised by different hands and dif 
ferent geniuses to the pitch of excellence which they attained in 
the great age of Leo X., when Raphael and Michael Angelo burst 
forth like resplendent luminaries. 

The reader is aware that our subject does not require us to 
give a technical history of the art. All that we undertake to 
show is in what respect Christianity is more favorable to painting 
than any other religion. Now, it is an easy task to prove three 
things Firstly, that the Christian religion, being of a spiritual 
and mystic nature, furnishes the painter with the beautiful ideal 
more perfect and more divine than that which arises from a ma 
terial worship; secondly, that, correcting the deformity of the 
passions, or powerfully counteracting them, it gives a more 
sublime expression to the human countenance, and more clearly 
displays the soul in the muscles and conformation of the body ; 
thirdly, and lastly, that it has furnished the arts with subjects 
more beautiful, more rich, more dramatic, more pathetic, than 
those of mythology. 

The first two propositions have been amply discussed in our 
examination of poetry j we shall, therefore, confine cfur attention 
to the third only. 





Firstly. The subjects of antiquity continue at the disposal of 
modern painters ; thus, in addition to the mythological scenes, 
they have the subjects which Christianity presents. 

Secondly. A circumstance which shows that Christianity has a 
more powerful influence over genius than fable, is that our great 
masters, in general, have been more successful in sacred than in 
profane subjects. 

Thirdly. The modern styles of dress are ill adapted to the arts 
of imitation ; but the Catholic worship has furnished painting 
with costumes as dignified as those of antiquity. 1 

Pausanias, 3 Pliny, 3 and Plutarch, 4 have left us a description of 
the pictures of the Greek school. 5 Zeuxis took for the subjects 
of his three principal productions, Penelope, Helen, and Cupid ; 
Polygnotus had depicted, on the walls of the temple of Delphi, 
the sacking of Troy and the descent of Ulysses into hell ; Eu- 
phranor painted the twelve gods, Theseus giving laws, and the 
battles of Cadmea, Leuctra, and Mantinea; Apelles drew Venus 
Anadyomene with the features of Campaspe ; ^Etion represented 
the -nuptials of Alexander and Roxana, and Timantes delineated 
the sacrifice of Iphigenia. 

Compare these subjects with the Christian subjects, and you 

1 These costumes of the fathers and the first Christians (which have been 
transmitted to our clergy) are no other than the robe of the ancient Greek 
philosophers, denominated irt.pi0o\aiov, or pallium. It was even a cause of per 
secution for the believers ; for when the Romans or the Jews perceived them 
thus attired, they would exclaim, O rpaixo$ (nrfitrr)$, Oh the Greek impostor! 
(Jerom., ep. 10, ad Furiam.) Consult Kortholt. de Morib. Christ., cap. iii. p. 
23, and Bar., an. Ivi. n. 11. Tertullian has written a work expressly on this 
subject, (de Pallio.) 

2 Paus., lib. v. 3 PHn., lib. xxxv. c. 8 9. 
4 Plut., in Hipp., Pomp., Lucul, &c. 5 See note V. 


will perceive their inferiority. The sacrifice of Isaac, for ex 
ample, is in a more simple style than that of Iphigenia, and is 
equally affecting. Here are no soldiers, no group of people, none 
of that bustle which serves to draw off the attention from the 
principal action. Here is the solitary summit of a mountain, a 
patriarch who numbers a century of years, the knife raised over 
an only son, and the hand of God arresting the paternal arm. 
The histories of the Old Testament are full of such pictures ; and 
it is well known how highly favorable to the pencil are the patri 
archal manners, the costumes of the East, the largeness of the 
animals and the vastness of the deserts of Asia. 

The New Testament changes the genius of painting. With 
out taking away any of its sublimity, it imparts to it a higher 
degree of tenderness. Who has not a hundred times admired 
the Nativity, the Virgin and Child, the Flight in the Desert, 
the Crowning with Thorn*, the Sacraments, the Mission of the 
Apostles, the Taking down from the Cross, the Women at the 
holy Sepulchre. Can bacchanals, festivals of Venus, rapes, meta 
morphoses, affect the heart like the pictures taken from the Scrip 
ture? Christianity everywhere holds forth virtue and misfortune 
to our view, and polytheism is a system of crimes and prosperity. 
Our religion is our own history ; it was for us that so many tragic 
spectacles were given to the world : we are parties in the scenes 
which the pencil exhibits to our view. A Greek, most assuredly, 
felt no kind of interest in the picture of a demi-god who cared 
not whether he was happy or miserable ; but the most moral and 
the most impressive harmonies pervade the Christian subjects. 
Be forever glorified, religion of Jesus Christ, that hast repre 
sented in the Louvre 1 the Crucifixion of the King of Kiiti/s, the 
Last Judgment on the ceiling of our court of justice, a Resurrec 
tion at the public hospital, and the Birth of our Saviour in the 
habitation of those orphans who are forsaken both by father and 
mother ! 

We may repeat here, respecting the subjects of pictures, what 
we have said elsewhere concerning the subjects of poems. Chris 
tianity has created a dramatic department in painting far superior 
to that of mythology. It is religion also that has given us a Claude 

1 The Museum of the Fine Arts at Paris. 


Loraine, as it lias furnished us with a Delille and a St. Lambert. 1 
But what need is there of so many arguments ? Step into the 
gallery of the Louvre, and then assert, if you can, that the spirit 
of Christianity is not favorable to the fine arts. 



WITH a few variations required by the technical part of the 
art, our remarks on painting are equally applicable to sculpture. 

The statue of Moses by Michael Angelo, at Rome; Adam and 
Eve by Baccio, at Florence; the Vow of Louis XIII. by Coustou, 
at Paris; St. Denys by the same; the tomb of Cardinal Riche 
lieu, the production of the joint genius of Lebran and Grirardon; 
the monument of Colbert, executed after the design of Lebrun, 
by Coyzevox and Tuby; Christ, the Mother of Pity, and the 
Eight Apostles, by Bouchardon, and several other statues of the 
religious kind, prove that Christianity understands the art of ani 
mating the marble full as well as the canvas. 

It were, however, to be wished that sculptors would in future 
banish from their funeral compositions those skeletons which they 
have frequently introduced in monuments. Such phantoms are 
not suggested by the genius of Christianity, which depicts death 
so fair for the righteous. 

It is equally necessary to avoid representations of corpses, 8 
(however meritorious the execution,) or humanity sinking under 
protracted infirmities. 3 A warrior expiring on the field of honor 
in the full vigor of manhood may be very fine; but a body emaci 
ated by disease is an image which the arts reject, unless accom- 

1 See note W. 

2 As in the mausoleum of Francis I. and Anne of Bretagne. 
* As in the tomb of the Duke d Harcourt. 


panied by some miracle, as in the picture of St. Charles Borro- 
meo. 1 Exhibit, then, upon the monument of the Christian, on 
the one hand his weeping family and his dejected friends, on 
the other, smiling hope and celestial joys. Such a sepulchre, dis 
playing on either side the scenes o f time and of eternity, would 
be truly admirable. Death might make his appearance there, 
but under the features of an angel at once gentle and severe; for 
the tomb of the righteous ought always to prompt the spectator 
to exclaim, with St. Paul, grave, where u thy victory? 
death, where is thy sting f 


Hotel des Invalides. 

IN treating of the influence of Christianity on the arts, there 
is no occasion for either subtlety or eloquence. The monuments 
are there to confute the depredators of religion. It is sufficient, 
for example, to mention St. Peter s at Rome, St. Sophia s at 
Constantinople, and St. Paul s in London, to prove that we are 
indebted to religion for the three master-pieces of modern archi 

In architecture, as in the other arts, Christianity has re-esta 
blished the genuine proportions. Our churches, neither so small 
as the temples of Athens nor so gigantic as those of Memphis, 
maintain that due medium in which beauty and taste eminently 
reside. By means of the dome, unknown to the ancients, reli 
gion has produced a happy combination of the boldness of the 
Gothic and the simplicity and grace of the Grecian orders. 

1 Painting may be more easily reconciled to the representation >f a dead 
body than sculpture, because the marble, exhibiting more palpable forms, up 
proaches too near to the truth. 


This dome, which in most of our churches is transformed into 
a steeple, imparts to our hamlets and towns a moral character 
which the cities of antiquity could not possess. The eyes of the 
traveller are first struck by that religious spire the sight of which 
awakens in his bosom a multitude of feelings and recollections. 
It is the funeral pyramid around which the rude forefathers of 
the hamlet sleep; but it is also the monument of joy beneath 
which the sacred brass records the life of the believer. Here 
husband and wife are united. Here Christians fall prostrate at 
the foot of the altar, the weak to pray to the God of might, the 
guilty to implore the God of mercy, the innocent to sing the 
praises of the God of love. Does a country-place appear naked, 
dreary, and desolate? introduce a rural steeple, and the whole 
instantly becomes animated. The soothing ideas of pastor and 
flock, of an asylum for the traveller, of alms for the pilgrim, of 
hospitality and Christian fraternity, spring up on every side. 

The more those ages which reared our monuments were dis 
tinguished for piety and faith, the more striking are those monu 
ments for grandeur and elevation of character. Of this an ex 
quisite specimen may be seen in the Hotel of the Invalids and the 
Military School. You would say that, at the voice of religion, the 
domes of the former aspire to heaven, while, at the command of an 
atheistical age, the latter has been made to grovel upon the earth. 

Three sides, forming with the church an oblong square, com 
pose the whole structure of the Invalids. But what perfect taste 
in this simplicity ! What beauty in that court, which, neverthe 
less, is but a military cloister, where art has blended martial with 
religious ideas, and combined the image of a camp of aged 
soldiers with the affecting recollections of an hospital ! It is at 
once the monument of the God of hosts and the God of the gos 
pel. The rust of years with which it begins to be covered gives 
it a noble affinity to those living ruins the veterans who walk be 
neath its ancient porticos, In the forecourts every thing re 
minds you of war ditches, glacis, ramparts, cannon, tents, senti 
nels. Proceed, and the noise gradually diminishes till it wholly 
subsides at the church, where profound silence reigns. It was a 
grand idea to place the religious structure in the rear of all the 
military edifices, like the image of rest and hope at the end of a 
life exposed to a thousand hardships and dangers. 


The age of Louis XIV. is perhaps the only one that has duly 
appreciated these admirable moral harmonies, and always per 
formed in the arts just what was becoming, without doing either 
too little or too much. The wealth of commerce has erected the 
magnificent colonnades of Greenwich Hospital; but there is 
something prouder and more imposing in the general mass of the 
Invalids. You are convinced that a nation which rears such 
palaces for the old age of its armies has received the sword of 
might as well as the sceptre of the arts. 1 



PAINTING, architecture, poetry, and the higher species of elo 
quence, have invariably degenerated in philosophic ages; because 
a reasoning spirit, by destroying the imagination, undermines the 
foundation of the fine arts. We fancy ourselves more enlightened 
because we correct a few errors in natural philosophy, substituting, 
however, all the errors of reason in their stead; and we are, in 
fact, going backward, since we are losing one of the finest facul 
ties of the mind. 

It was at Versailles that all the splendors of the religious age 
of France were combined. Scarcely a century has elapsed since 
those groves rang with the sounds of festivity, and now they are 
animated only by the music of the grasshopper and the nightin 
gale. This palace, which of itself is like a large town, those 
marble staircases, which seem to ascend to the skies, those 
statues, those basins of water, those woods, are now either crum 
bling into ruin, or covered with moss, or dried up, or overthrown; 
and yet this abode of kings never appeared more magnificent or 
less solitary. All these places were formerly empty. The little 

1 Our author s subject would not have suffered by a more particular notice of 
SL Peter s at Rome and St. Paul s Cathedral in London. 


court of the last of the Bourbons (before adversity had completely 
overwhelmed that court) seemed lost in the vast habitation of 
Louis XIV. 

When time has given a mortal blow to empires, some great 
name associates itself with them and covers their relics. If the 
noble poverty of the soldier has now succeeded the magnificence 
of courts at Versailles, if the views of miracles and martyrs have 
there taken the place of profane pictures, why should the shade 
of Louis XIV. be offended ? He conferred lustre on religion, on 
the arts, and on the army. It is consistent, therefore, that the 
ruins of his palace should afford an asvluin to the ruins of the 
army, of the arts, and of religion. 



EVERT thing ought to be in its proper place. This is a truth 
become trite by repetition; but without its due observance there 
can be nothing perfect. The Greeks would not have been better 
pleased with an Egyptian temple at Athens than the Egyptians 
with a Greek temple at Memphis. These two monuments, by 
changing places, would have lost their principal beauty; that is 
to say, their relations with the institutions and habits of the peo 
ple. This reflection is equally applicable to the ancient monu 
ments of Christianity. It is even curious to remark how readily 
the poets and novelists of this infidel age, by a natural return to 
ward the manners of our ancestors, introduce dungeons, spectres, 
castles, and Gothic churches, into their fictions, so great is the 
charm of recollections associated with religion and the history of 
our country. Nations do not throw aside their ancient customs 
as people do their old clothes. Some part of them may be dis 
carded; but there will remain a portion, which with the new 
manners will form a very strange mixture. 


In vain would you build Grecian temples, ever so elegant and 
well-lighted, for the purpose of assembling the good people of 
St. Louis and Queen Blanche, and making them adore a meta 
physical God; they would still regret those Notre Dames of 
Rheims and Paris, those venerable cathedrals, overgrown with 
inoss, full of generations of the dead and the ashes of their 
forefathers ; they would still regret the tombs of those heroes, 
the Montmorencys, on which they loved to kneel during mass; 
to say nothing of the sacred fonts to which they were carried at 
their birth. The reason is that all these things are essentially 
interwoven with their manners ; that a monument i not vene 
rable, unless a long history of the past be, as it were, inscribed 
beneath its vaulted canopy, black with age. For this reason, 
also, there is nothing marvellous in a temple whose erection we 
have witnessed, whose echoes and whose domes were formed 
before our eyes. God is the eternal law; his origin, and what 
ever relates to his worship, ought to be enveloped in the night 
of time. 

You could not enter a Gothic church without feeling a kind 
of awe and a vague sentiment of the Divinity. You were all at 
once carried back to those times when a fraternity of ceuobites, 
after having meditated in the woods of their monasteries, met 
to prostrate themselves before the altar and to chant the 
praises of the Lord, amid the tranquillity and the silence of 
night. Ancient France seemed to revive altogether; you beheld 
all those singular costumes, all that nation so different from what 
it is at present; you were reminded of its revolutions, its pro 
ductions, and its arts. The more remote were these times the 
more magical they appeared, the more they inspired ideas which 
always end with a reflection on the nothingness of man and the 
rapidity of life. 

The Gothic style, notwithstanding its barbarous proportions, 
possesses a beauty peculiar to itself. 1 

1 Gothic architecture, as well as the sculpture in the same stylo, is supposed 
to have been derived from the Arabs. Its affinity to the monuments of 
Egypt would rather lead us to imagine that it was transmitted to us by 
ihe first Christians of the East; but we are more inclined to refer its origin 
to nature. 

33 Z 


The forests were the first temples of the Divinity, and in 
them men acquired the first idea of architecture. This art 
must, therefore, have varied according to climates. The Greeks 
turned the elegant Corinthian column, with its capital of foliage, 
after the model of the palm-tree. 1 The enormous pillars of the 
ancient Egyptian style represent the massive sycamore, the 
oriental fig, the banana, and most of the gigantic trees of 
Africa and Asia. 

The forests of Gaul were, in their turn, introduced into the 
temples of our ancestors, and those celebrated woods of oaks 
thus maintained their sacred character. Those ceilings sculp 
tured into foliage of different kinds, those buttresses which 
prop the walls and terminate abruptly like the broken trunks 
of trees, the coolness of the vaults, the darkness of the 
sanctuary, the dim twilight of the aisles, the secret passages, 
the low doorways, in a word, every thing in a Gothic 
church reminds you of the labyrinths of a wood; every thing 
excites a feeling of religious awe, of mystery, and of the 

The two lofty towers erected at the entrance of the edifice 
overtop the elms and yew-trees of the churchyard, and produce 
the most picturesque effect on the azure of heaven. Sometimes 
their twin heads are illumined by the first rays of dawn; at 
others they appear crowned with a capital of clouds or magni 
fied in a foggy atmosphere. The birds themselves seem to make 
a mistake in regard to them, and to take them for the trees of 
the forest ; they hover over their summits, and perch upon their 
pinnacles. But, lo ! confused noises suddenly issue from the 
top of these towers and scare away the affrighted birds. The 
Christian architect, not content with building forests, has been 

i Vitruvius gives a different account of the invention of the Corinthian 
capital; but this does not confute the general principle that architecture 
originated in the woods. We are only astonished that there should not be 
more variety in the column, after the varieties of trees. We have a conception, 
for example, of a column that might be termed Palmist, and be a natural 
representation of the palm-tree. An orb of foliage slightly bowed and sculp 
tured on the top of a light shaft of marble would, in our opinion, produce a 
very pleasing effect in a portico. 


desirous to retain their murmurs ; and, by means of the organ 
and of bells, he has attached to the Gothic temple the very 
winds and thunders that roar in the recesses of the woods. Past 
ages, conjured up by these religious sounds, raise their venerable 
voices from the bosom of the stones, and are heard in every 
corner of the vast cathedral. The sanctuary re-echoes like the 
cavern of the ancient Sibyl ; loud-tongued bells swing over your 
head, while the vaults of death under your feet are profoundly 




LET us now consider the effects of Christianity upco literature 
in general. It may be classed under these three principal heads : 
philosophy, history, and eloquence. 

By philosophy we here mean the study of every species of 

It will be seen that, in defending religion, we by no means 
attack wisdom. Far be it from us to confound sophistical pride 
with the solid qualifications of the mind and heart. Genuine 
philosophy is the innocence of the old age of nations, when they 
have ceased to possess virtues by instinct, and owe such as they 
have to reason. This second innocence is less certain than the 
first, but, when it can be attained, it is more sublime. 

On whatever side you view the religion of the gospel, you 
find that it enlarges the understanding and tends to expand 
the feelings. In the sciences, its tenets are not hostile to any 
natural truth; its doctrine forbids not any study. Among the 
ancients, a philosopher was continually meeting with some 
divinity in his way; he was doomed by the priests of Jupiter or 
Apollo, under pain of death or exile, to be absurd all his life. 
But, as the God of the Christians has not confined himself within 
the narrow limits of a sun, he has left all the luminaries of 
heaven open to the researches of scholars : " He hath delivered 
the world to their consideration/ 1 The natural philosopher 
may weigh the air in his tube without any apprehension of 
offending Juno ; it is not of the elements of his body, but of 
the virtues of his soul, that the Supreme Judge will one day 
require an account. 

1 Ecclesiastes iii. 11. 


We are aware that we shall not fail to be reminded of certain 
bulls of the Holy See, or certain decrees of the Sorbonne, which 
condemn this or that philosophical discovery ; but, on the other 
hand, how many ordinances of the court of Rome in favor of 
these same discoveries might we not enumerate ! What can be 
said in this case, except that the clergy, who are men like 
ourselves, have shown themselves more or less enlightened, 
according to the natural course of ages ? If Christianity itself 
has neve r appeared in opposition to the sciences, we have a suffi 
cient authorization for our first assertion. 

Let it be observed that the Church has at all periods pro 
tected the arts, though she has sometimes discouraged abstract 
studies; and in this she has displayed her accustomed wisdom. 
In vain do men perplex their understandings ; they never will 
fully comprehend any thing in nature, because it is not they 
who have said to the ocean, " Hitherto thou shalt come, and 
shalt go no farther, and here thou shalt break thy swelling 
waves." 1 Systems will eternally succeed systems, and truth 
will ever remain unknown. " If nature," says Montaigne, 
" should one day be pleased to reveal her secrets to us, 
oh heavens ! what errors, what mistakes, shall we find in our 
paltry sciences I" 9 

The legislators of antiquity, agreeing on this point, as in 
many others, with the principles of the Christian religion, 
discouraged philosophers 3 and lavished honors upon artists. 4 
All these alleged persecutions of the sciences by Christianity 
may, therefore, with equal justice, be laid to the charge of the 
ancients, in whom, however, we discover such profound wisdom. 
In the year of Rome 591, the senate issued a decree banishing 
all philosophers from the city, and six years afterward Cato lost 
no time in procuring the dismissal of Carneades, the Athenian 
ambassador, " lest," as he said, " the Roman youth, acquiring a 
taste for the subtleties of the Greeks, should lose the simplicity 
of the ancient manners." If the system of Copernicus was 

i Job xxrdii. 11. 2 Euayt, book ii. ch. 12. 

3 Xenoph., Hist. Green. ; Plut, Mor. ; Plat, in Phced., in Repub. 

4 The Greeks carried this hatred of philosophers to a criminal height, since 
they put Socrates to death. 



condemned by the court of Rome, did it not meet with a similai 
fate among the Greeks ?* " Aristarchus," says Plutarch, " was 
of opinion that the Greeks ought to bring Cleanthes, the 
Samian, to trial, and to find him guilty of blasphemy against 
the gods, as a disturber of the public faith ; because this man, 
endeavoring to save appearances, supposed that the firmament 
was motionless, and that the earth moved along the oblique 
circle of the zodiac, revolving upon its axis." 3 

It is true, moreover, that modern Rome showed superior 
intelligence; for the same ecclesiastical tribunal which at first 
condemned the system of Copernicus, six years afterward 
allowed it to be taught as an hypothesis. 3 Besides, could a 
greater proficiency in astronomical science be reasonably ex 
pected of a Roman priest than of Tycho Brahe, who continued 
to deny the motion of the earth ? Lastly, were not a Pope 
Gregory, who reformed the calendar, a Friar Bacon, probably 
the inventor of the telescope, Cuza, a cardinal, Gassendi, a 
priest, either the patrons or the luminaries of astronomy ? 4 

1 The assertion that the system of Copernicus, proclaimed by Galileo, was 
condemned by the Court of Rome, is proved to be utterly unfounded in truth. 
Galileo was arraigned before the tribunals at Rome, not as an astronomer, 
but as a bad theologian. He was censured, not for teaching that the earth 
revolved round the sun, but for obstinately declaring that his opinion was 
contained in the Bible, and pretending that the ecclesiastical authorities should 
publish a decision to this effect. That such were the facts of the case we 
learn from the letters of Guiceiardini and the Marquis Nicolini, both disciples 
and friends of Galileo, and from the letters of the distinguished astronomer 
himself. Mr. Mallet du Pau, an impartial Protestant writer, has presented all 
this evidence in a lengthy dissertation on the subject, which appeared in the 
Mercure de France, July 17, 1784. T. 

2 Plut., On the Face which appears in the Moon s Disc, chap. 4. It is 
scarcely necessary to observe that there is an error in Plutarch s text, and 
that it was, on the contrary, Aristarchus of Samos against whom Cleanthes 
endeavored to raise a persecution on account of his opinion respecting the 
motion of the earth ; but this makes no alteration in what we are attempting 
to demonstrate. 

3 The theory of Galileo, once divested of its theological aspect, met with 
no opposition whatever from the ecclesiastical authorities. T. See note X. 

1 Cardinal Cuza, equally distinguished for virtue and learning, died in 1454. 
He taught without censure the same astronomical system which afterward 
formed the pretended charge against Galileo a fact which corroborates the 
remark in a preceding note, that the question in the case of Galileo was not 
of an astronomical, but a theological, nature. T. 


Plato, that genius so deeply enamored of the loftier sciences, 
expressly says, in one of his finest works, that the hiyht,* studies 
are not useful to all, but only to a small number; and to this 
reflection, continued by experience, he adds the remark, "that 
absolute ignorance is neither the greatest of evils nor the most- to 
be feared, but that an accumulation of ill-digested knowledge i 
infinitely worse." 1 

If religion, therefore, stood in need of any justification on this 
head, we should not want authorities among the ancients, or even 
among the moderns. Hobbes has written several treatises 8 against 
the uncertainty of the most certain of all sciences, the mathe 
matics. In that which he has entitled Contra Gcometras, sivo 
contra fastum Professor-urn, he censures the definitions of Euclid, 
one after another, and shows how much in them is false, vague, 
or arbitrary. The manner in which he expresses himself is re 
markable : Ttaque per hanc fpistolam hoc ayo ut osfendam tibi 
non minorem esse dubitandi causam, in scriptis mathcmaticorum 
qudm in scriptis physicorum, ethicorum, &c* " I shall therefore 
endeavor to prove to you, in this epistle, that there is not less 
cause for doubt in the works of mathematicians, than in those of 
natural philosophers, moralists, &c." 

Bacon has expressed himself in still stronger language against 
the sciences, even when he appears to be defending them. Ac 
cording to that great writer, it is proved that a slight tincture of 
philosophy may lead to a disbelief of a first cause ; but that more 
profound knowledge conducts man unto God. 4 

How dreadful this idea, if true ! For one single genius capable 
of attaining that plenitude of knowledge required by Bacon, 
and where, according to Pascal, you merely find yourself in an 
other sort of iynorance, how many inferior minds must there be, 
that can never soar so high, but remain involved in those 
clouds of science which enshroud the Divinity ! 

The rock upon which the multitude will invariably strike is 
pride ; you will never be able to persuade them that they know 
nothing at the moment when they imagine themselves in posses- 

1 De Leg., lib. vii. 

2 Examinatio et emendatio mathematics hodiernce, Dial. IV., contra yeometra* 
1 Hob., Opera omn. Amttelod., edit. 1667. 

De Auy. Scient., lib. v. 


sion of all the stores of science. Great minds alone can form a 
conception of that last point of human knowledge, at which the 
treasures which you have amassed vanish from your sight and 
you find yourself reduced to your original poverty. For this rea 
son, almost all wise men have considered philosophical studies as 
fraught with extreme danger for the multitude. Locke employs 
the first three chapters of the fourth book of his Essay on the 
Human Understanding in fixing the limits of our knowledge, 
which are at so small a distance from us as to be really alarming. 

" Our knowledge/ says he, " being so narrow as I have 
showed, it will perhaps give us some light into the present state 
of our minds if we look a little into the dark side and take a 
view of our ignorance ; which, being infinitely larger than our 
knowledge, may serve much to the quieting of disputes ; if, dis 
covering how far we have clear and distinct ideas, we confine our 
thoughts within the contemplation of those things that are within 
the reach of our understandings, and launch not out into that 
abyss of darkness, (where we have not eyes to see nor faculties to 
perceive any thing,) out of a presumption that nothing is beyond 
our comprehension." 1 

Lastly, it is well known that Newton, disgusted with the study 
of the mathematics, could not for several years bear to hear it 
mentioned ; and even in our days, Gibbon, who was so long the 
apostle of the new ideas, wrote as follows : " The precision of 
the sciences has accustomed us to despise moral evidence, so fruit 
ful in exquisite sensations, and which is capable of deciding the 
opinions and the actions of our lives." 

In fact, many people have thought that science, in the hands 
of man, contracts the heart, robs nature of her charms, leads weak 
minds to atheism, and from atheism to crimes of every kind; 
that the fine arts, on the contrary, impart a magic coloring to 
life, melt the soul, fill us with faith in the Divinity, and conduct 
us by religion to the practice of every virtue. 

We shall not quote Rousseau, whose authority on this subject 
might be called in question; but Descartes, for example, has 
expressed himself in a most extraordinary manner, respecting 
the science on which a considerable share of his reputation is 

1 Locke on the Human Understanding, vol. ii. book iv. ch. 3, p. 22. 


"Accordingly," says the learned author of his life, " nothing 
appeared to him less useful than to devote the whole attention to 
simple numbers and imaginary figures, as if we ought to stop at 
such trifles, without extending our views beyond them. He 
even saw in them something worse than useless ; he looked upon 
it as dangerous to apply too assiduously to those superficial de 
monstrations which are less frequently the result of industry and 
experience than of accident. 1 His maxim was that this applica 
tion weans us by degrees from the use of our reason, and renders 
us liable to lose the track which its light directs us to pursue."* 
This opinion of the author of the application of algebra to geo 
metry is worthy of serious attention. 

Father Castel, also, who has written on the subject of the ma 
thematics, has not. hesitated to express his conviction of the over- 
importance attached to it. " In general," says he, u the science 

of mathematics is too highly esteemed Geometry has 

sublime truths ; it embraces objects but little developed, and 
points of view that have, as it were, passed unobserved : but why 
should we be afraid to speak out ? It contains paradoxes, appa 
rent contradictions, conclusions of system and concessions, 
opinions of sects, conjectures, and even false arguments." 3 

According to Buffon, " what are called mathematical truths are 
nothing more than identities of ideas, and have no reality." 4 
Lastly, the Abbe" Condillac, affecting the same contempt for ma 
thematicians as Hobbes, says, " that when they quit their calcu 
lations to pursue researches of a different nature, we find in them 
neither the same perspicuity, nor the same precision, nor the 
same depth of understanding. We have four celebrated meta 
physicians, Descartes, Mallebranche, Leibnitz, and Locke; the 
last is the only one who was not a mathematician, and how supe 
rior is he to the three others !" 5 

This opinion is not correct. In pure metaphysics, Mallebranche 
and Leibnitz far surpassed the English philosopher. Mathema 
tical geniuses, it is true, are often wrong in the ordinary affairs 

1 Letters of 1638, p. 412; Cartes, lib. de direct, inyen. reyulu, n. 5. 

2 OEuvres de Dec., tome i. p. 112. 3 Math, univ., pp. 3, 4. 

4 Hist, not., tome i. prem. disc. p. 77. 

5 Essai BUT I Oriyine den Connoisaancea kumaines, tonic ii. sect. 2, ch. 4, p. 239, 
edit. Arast. 1788. 


of life ; but this proceeds from their extreme accuracy. They 
would everywhere discover absolute truths; whereas, in morals 
and in politics, all truths are relative. It is strictly true that two 
and two make four ; it is an identical proposition, one and all, 
independent of time and place. But it is not equally clear that 
a good law at Athens is a good law at Paris. It is a fact that 
liberty is an excellent thing; but ought we, for this reason, to 
shed torrents of blood to establish it among a people, how unfit 
soever that people may be to enjoy the blessing ? 

In mathematics, we ought to consider nothing but the prin 
ciple ; in morals, nothing but the consequence. The one is a 
simple, the other a compound, truth. Besides, nothing deranges 
the compasses of the mathematician, whereas every thing de 
ranges the heart of the philosopher. When tho instrument of the 
latter will be as true as that of the former, we may hope to pene 
trate to the bottom of things. Till that time we must expect 
errors. He who would introduce mathematical strictness into 
the social relations must be either the most stupid or the most 
wicked of men. 

The mathematics, moreover, far from proving vastness of un 
derstanding in most of those who employ them, should, on the 
contrary, be considered as the prop of their weakness, as a sup 
plement to their insufficient capacity, as a method of abbreviation 
adapted to the classing of results in heads incapable of accom 
plishing this of themselves. They are, in fact, but general signs 
of ideas, which spare us the trouble of thinking ; the numbered 
tickets of a treasure which we have not counted; the instruments 
with which we work, and not the things on which we operate. 
Let us suppose one idea to be represented by A, and another by 
B. What a prodigious difference will there be between the man 
who develops these two ideas in all their bearings, moral, political, 
and religious, and him who, with pen in hand, patiently multi 
plies A by B, finding curious combinations, but without having 
any thing else before his mind than the properties of tw& barren 
letters ! 

But if, excluding every other science, you instruct a boy in 
this, which certainly furnishes very few ideas, you run the -risk 
of drying up the very source of his ideas, of spoiling the finest 
genius, of extinguishing the most fertile imagination, of circum- 


scribing the most extensive understanding. You fill his young 
head with a multitude of numbers and unmeaning figures, which 
represent nothing at all ; you accustom him to be satisfied with 
a given sum, not to take a single step without the aid of a theory, 
never to put forth his strength ; you teach him to relieve .his 
memory and his mind by artificial operations, to know and even 
tually to love none but those strict principles and those absolute 
truths which overturn society. 

It has been asserted that the mathematics serve to rectify the 
errors of the reasoning faculty in youth. To this a very ingenious, 
and at the same time a very sound, answer has been given : that 
you must first have the ideas before you can class them ; that to 
pretend to arrange the understanding of a boy would amount to 
the same thing as to pretend to set in order an empty room. 
First give him clear notions of his moral and religious duties ; 
store his mind with knowledge, human and divine ; and when 
you have bestowed the necessary attention on the education of 
his heart, when his mind is sufficiently furnished with objects of 
comparison and sound principles, then place them in order, if you 
please, by means of geometry. 1 

But is it true that the study of the mathematics is so necessary 
in life? If you must have magistrates, ministers, civil and re 
ligious classes, what have the properties of a circle or of a tri 
angle to do with their respective professions ? Every thing must 
be of a positive nature, you will say. 3ut what is less positive 
than the sciences, the theories of which change several times 
in a century ? Of what consequence is it to the husbandman 
that the element of the earth be not homogeneous, or to the wood 
cutter that the wood be of a pyroliyncom substance ? One elo 
quent page of Bossuet on morals is more useful and more difficult 
to be written than a volume of philosophical abstractions. But, 

1 These remarks are fully confirmed by Dr. Johnson. " Whether we provide 
for action or conversation, whether wo wish to be useful or pleasing, the first 
requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong; the next 
is an acquaintance with the history of mankind, and with those examples 
which may be said to embody truth and prove by events the reasonableness 
of opinions. Prudence and justice are virtues and excellences of all times and 
of all places; we are perpetually moralists, but we are geometricians only b* 
chance." Johns n s Life of Milton, 


you will say, we apply the discoveries of the sciences to the 
mechanical arts. All these notable discoveries scarcely ever pro 
duce the effects that are expected from them. The high perfec 
tion of agriculture in England is not so much the result of 
scientific experiments, as of the patient toil and industry of the 
farmer, obliged to bestow incessant pains upon an ungrateful 

We erroneously ascribe to our science what belongs to the 
natural progress of society. The number of hands and of rustic 
animals has increased; the manufactures and products of the 
earth must have been proportionably augmented and improved. 
To have lighter ploughs and more perfect machines for the 
various classes of artisans is certainly an advantage; but to 
imagine that the whole of genius, the whole of human wisdom, 
is comprised in the circle of mechanical inventions, is an egre 
gious mistake. 

As to the mathematics, properly so called, it has been proved 
that a person may in a short time learn as much of them, as is 
requisite to make him a good engineer. All beyond this prac 
tical geometry is but speculative geometry, which has its fancies, 
its inutilities, and, if we may be allowed the expression, its 
romances, like the other sciences. " A proper distinction should 
be made/ says Voltaire, " between useful geometry and curious 
geometry. Square curves as long as you please, and you may 
display a good deal of sagacity ; but you will resemble an arithme 
tician who investigates the properties of numbers instead of cal 
culating his fortune When Archimedes discovered the 

specific gravity of bodies, he rendered a service to mankind; biit 
of what service would it be to find three numbers, such that the 
difference between the squares of two of them, added to the 
number three, will always form a square, and the sum of their 
three differences, added to the same cube, will still produce a 
square? Nugse. difficiles!" 1 

Unpleasant as this truth may be to mathematicians, it must, 
however, be told : nature has not destined them to hold the first 
rank. With the exception of a few distinguished for their dis 
coveries, she has doomed them all to a melancholy obscurity; and 

1 Quest, sur I Encyc. Geom. 


those geniuses themselves would be threatened with oblivion, did 
not the historian undertake the task of introducing- them to the 
world. Archimedes owes his glory to Polybius, and Voltaire 
laid the foundation of Newton s fame. Plato and Pythagoras 
survive as moralists and legislators, and Leibnitz and Descartes 
as metaphysicians, rather, perhaps, than as mathematicians. 
D Alembert would, at the present day, share the fate of Varig- 
non and Duhamel, whose names, though still respected in the 
schools, are scarcely known to the world except by academic 
eulogies, had he not combined the reputation of a scholar with 
that of a man of science. A poet, by means of a few verses, lives 
to the remotest posterity, immortalizes his age, and transmits to 
future times those whom he deigns to celebrate in his composi 
tions; the man of science, scarcely known during his lifetime, 
is forgotten the day after his death. Involuntarily ungrateful, 
he can do nothing for the great man or the hero by whom he is 
patronized. To no purpose will he give his name to a chemical 
furnace or a philosophical machine; such expedients, however 
praiseworthy, will not confer distinguished fame. Glory is born 
without wings; she is obliged to borrow those of the Muses when 
she would soar to the skies. Corneille, Racine, Boileau, the 
orators and artists, contributed to immortalize Louis XIV. much 
more than the celebrated men of science who flourished during 
his time. All ages, all countries, present the same example. 
Let mathematicians then cease to complain, if nations, by one 
general instinct, give to letters the precedence over the sciences; 
because the man who has bequeathed to the world one single 
moral precept, one single affecting sentiment, renders a greater 
service to society than the mathematician who discovered the 
beautiful properties of the triangle. . 

After all, it is, perhaps, no very difficult task to reconcile those 
who declaim against mathematics and those who prefer them to 
all the other sciences. This difference of opinion proceeds from 
a very common error, which is to confound a great with a skilful 
mathematician. There is a material geometry composed of lines, 
of points, of A-fB, with which a very inferior understanding 
can, with time and perseverance, perform prodigies. It is then 
a species of geometrical machine which executes of itself highly- 
complicated operations, like the arithmetical machine invented 



by Pascal. In the sciences, he who comes last is sure to know 
the most, so that many a scholar of the present day seems to bo 
a greater proficient than Newton; and, for the same reason, many 
a one who now passes for a man of science will be deemed igno 
rant by the next generation. Proud of their calculations, me 
chanical geometricians hold the arts of the imagination in sove 
reign contempt; they smile with pity when you talk to them of 
literature, of morals, of religion ; they are intimately acquainted, 
they will tell you, with all nature. Are you not as much pleased 
with the ignorance of Plato, who terms this same nature a mys 
terious poetry ? 

Fortunately, there exists another geometry, an intellectual 
geometry. It is necessary to have studied this in order to obtain 
admission among the disciples of Socrates ; it is this that beholds 
the Deity behind the circle and the triangle, and has formed 
such men as Pascal, Leibnitz, Descartes, and Newton. In 
general, all the inventive mathematical geniuses have been 
religious. 1 

But it cannot be denied that this geometry of great minds is 
very rare. For one single genius who pursues his course through 
the higher regions of science, how many others are bewildered in 
its inextricable mazes ! Here we may notice one of those re 
actions so frequent in the laws of Providence : the irreligious 
ages necessarily lead to the sciences, and the sciences necessarily 
produce irreligious ages. When, in an impious age, man pro 
ceeds so far as to disbelieve the existence of God, this truth 
being the only one which he cannot shake off, and feeling an 
imperious necessity for positive truths, he seeks to create new 
ones, and imagines that he discovers them in the abstractions of 
the sciences. On the other hand, it is natural that ordinary 
minds, or young and unthinking persons, on meeting with mathe- 

1 This remark, so just and so honorable to science, recalls to our minds tha 
beautiful lines of Ovid. 

Felices animae ! quibus base cognoscere primis, 
Inque domos superas scandere cura fuit. 
Credibile est illas paviter vitiisque locisque 
Aldus humanis exseruisse caput. 
Non Venua et Vinum sublimia pectora fregit, 
Officiumve fori, militiaeve labor. Ovid, Fasti, lib. i. 


inatical truths throughout the whole universe, on discovering 
them in the heavens with Newton, in chemistry with Lavoisier, 
in minerals with the Abbe" Haiiy, it is natural, we say, that they 
should take them for the principles of things, and not see any 
object beyond them. That beautiful simplicity of nature which 
should lead them to recognise, with Aristotle, a primary moving 
principle, and with Plato, an eternal geometrician, serves but to 
bewilder them. God soon becomes for them nothing more than 
the properties of bodies, and the very chain of numbers conceals 
from their view the grand unity of being. 



SUCH are the abuses that have given so many advantages to 
the enemies of the sciences, and produced the eloquent declama 
tions of Rousseau and his followers. Nothing is more admirable, 
say they, than the beautiful discoveries of a Spullanzani, a La 
voisier, and a Lagrange ; but all is spoiled by the consequences 
which perverted minds pretend to draw from them. What! 
because men have demonstrated the simplicity of the digestive 
juices and varied those of generation; because chemistry has 
increased, or, if you please, diminished, the number of the ele 
ments ; because every student comprehends the laws of gravita 
tion, and every schoolboy can scrawl geometrical figures; because 
this or that writer is a subtle metaphysician, are we thence to 
conclude that there is neither God nor true religion ? What an 
abuse of reasoning ! 

Disgust for philosophic studies has been strengthened in timid 
minds by another consideration. "If," say they, "all these dis 
coveries were certain and invariable, we could understand the 
pride which they engender, not in the estimable men by whom 
they were made, but in the multitude who enjoy the benefit of 
them. But, in those sciences termed positive, does not the cxperi- 


ence of to-day destroy the experience of yesterday ? All the error* 
of ancient physics have had their partisans and their defenders 
A literary work of high merit will enjoy repute in every age; 
nay, time only adds to its lustre. But the sciences which are 
engaged solely with the properties of bodies cannot maintain their 
systems; the most renowned theories soon become antiquated. 
Chemists, for instance, imagined that they had obtained a regular 
nomenclature, 1 and now they find themselves mistaken. A few 
more facts, and it will be necessary to break up the drawers of 
modern chemistry. Of what use has it been to introduce such 
confusion in names, calling the atmospheric air oxygen, &c. ? 
The sciences are a labyrinth in which you find yourself more 
than ever bewildered at the very moment when you imagine that 
you are just at the end of it. 

These objections are plausible, but they are not more appli 
cable to chemistry than to the other sciences. To reproach 
ch< mists with undeceiving themselves by their experiments, 
would be finding fault with their honesty and accusing them 
of being unacquainted with the essence of things. To whom, 
then, is this secret known, except to that Supreme Intelligence 
which has existed from all eternity ? The shortness of life, the 
weakness of our senses, the imperfections of our instruments 
and of our means, are so many insurmountable obstacles to the 
discovery of that general formula which the Almighty hath for 
ever concealed from us. Our sciences, as it is well known, de 
compose, and recompose, but they cannot compose. It is this 
inability to create that always discovers the weak side and the 
insignificance of man. In spite of all his efforts he can do 
nothing; he everywhere meets with an invincible resistance. 
He cannot make matter subservient to his purposes, without 

1 By means of the famous terminations of acids in ous and ic. It has been 
recently demonstrated that nitric acid and sulphuric acid were not the result 
of the addition of oxygen to nitrous acid and sulphureous acid. There has 
been, from the beginning, a chasrn left in the system by the muriatic acid, 
which had no positive in ous. M. Bertbolet, we are told, is on the point of prov 
ing that azote, hitherto considered as a simple essence combined with caloric, is 
a compound substance. There is but one certain fact in chemistry, fixed by 
Boerhave and developed by Lavoisier, namely, that caloric, or the substance 
which, combined with light, composes fire, has a continual tendency to expand 
bodies, or to separate their constituent particles from one another. 


hearing its groans and complaints, and he seems to unite hw-, own 
sighs and his turbulent heart with all his works. 

In the productions of the Creator, on the contrary, all is 
silent, because it is not the result of effort ; all is still, because 
all is submissive. He spoke; chaos was mute, and the spheres 
rolled without noise into the expanse of the firmament. The 
united powers of matter are to one single word of God as 
nothing is to every thing, as created things are to necessity. 
Behold man in the midst of his labors : what a terrible collec 
tion of machines ! He whets the steel, he distils the poison, 
he summons the elements to his aid ; he causes the water to 
roar, the air to hiss, his furnaces are kindled. Armed with fire, 
what is this new Prometheus about to attempt ? Is he going to 
create a world? No. The end of his work is destruction; all 
that he can bring forth is death ! 

Whether it be from the prejudices of education, or from the 
habit of wandering in the deserts and bringing our heart alone 
to the study of nature, we must confess that it gives us some 
pain to see the spirit of analysis and classification predominating 
in the amiable sciences, in which we should look for nothing but 
the graces of the Divinity. We think it very pitiful, if we may 
be allowed to express the opinion, that mammiferous man should 
be classed nowadays, according to the system of Linnaeus, with 
monkeys, bats, and sloths. Would it not have been full as well 
to have left him at the head of the creation, where he was placed 
by Moses, Aristotle, Buffon, and nature ? Connected by his soul 
with heaven, and by his body with the earth, we loved to see 
him form that link in the chain of beings which unites the 
visible with the invisible world and time with eternity. 

" Even in this age," says Buffon, "in which the sciences 
seem to be cultivated with extraordinary care, it is, in my 
opinion, very easy to perceive that philosophy is neglected, and, 
perhaps, to a greater degree than in any preceding age ; the arts 
which people are pleased to term scientific have usurped its 
place; the methods of calculation and of geometry, those of 
botany and of natural history, in a word, formulas and diction 
aries, engage almost everybody s attention ; we imagine that we 
know more because we have increased the number of symbolical 
expressions and scientific phrases, without observing that all 
34* 2 A 


these arts are but scaffolds to enable us to climb to science, and 
are not science itself; that we ought never to employ them 
when they can be dispensed with, and ought always to be 
afraid lest they should fail us when we would apply them to 
the edifice." 1 

These remarks are judicious; but, in our opinion, classifica 
tions are pregnant with still more danger. Is there not reason 
to fear lest this rage for reducing all things to physical signs, for 
discovering in the different races of the creation nothing but 
claws, teeth, and beaks, may gradually lead youth into mate 
rialism? If, however, there is a science in which the incon 
veniences of incredulity are felt in their fullest extent, that 
science is natural history. You there blight whatever you touch; 
the perfumes, the brilliant tints, the elegant forms of plants, 
disappear before the botanist who attaches to them neither 
morality nor feeling. Without religion the heart is insensible 
and dead to beauty ; for beauty is not a thing that exists out 
of us ; it is in the heart of man that all the charms of nature 

As for him who studies the nature and properties of animals, 
what else is it, if he is an infidel, than studying inanimate 
bodies ? Whither do his researches conduct him ? what can be 
their end ? It is for him that those cabinets have been formed 
schools in which death, with scythe in hand, is the lecturer ; 
cemeteries in which clocks have been placed to count the 
minutes for skeletons and to mark the hour in eternity ! 

It is in these tombs where nothingness has collected its 
wonders, where the relics of the ape insult the relics of man ; 
tis there we must seek the cause of that phenomenon an 
atheistical naturalist. By frequenting the atmosphere of sepul 
chres, his soul has inhaled death. 

When science was poor and solitary, when she roved through 
the valley and the forest, when she watched the bird carrying 
food to her young or the quadruped returning to his lair, when 
her laboratory was all nature, her amphitheatre the heavens and 
the earth, wl.en she was simple and marvellous as the wilds 
in which she passed her life, then she was religious. Seated 

Buffon, Hist. Nat., tome L, prem. disc., p. 79. 


beneath a spreading oak, her brow encircled with a wreath of 
flowers, which her innocent hands had plucked from the moun 
tain, she was content to paint on her tablets the surrounding 
scenery. Her books were but catalogues of remedies against 
corporeal infirmities, or collections of sacred hymns, whose words 
in like manner relieved the sorrows of the soul. But when so 
cieties of learned men were formed, when philosophers, seeking 
reputation and not nature, attempted to treat of the works of 
God without ever having felt a love for them, infidelity sprang 
up together with vanity, and science was reduced to the petty 
instrument of a petty renown. 

The Church has never spoken with such severity against phi 
losophic studies as the various philosophers whom we have 
quoted in these pages. If you accuse her of having looked 
rather coldly upon that knowledge which, to use the words of 
Seneca, cures its of nothing, you must also condemn that mul 
titude of legislators, statesmen, and moralists, who, in every 
age, have protested much more strongly than she has done 
against the danger, the uncertainty, and the obscurity of the 
sciences. 1 

Where will she discover truth ? Is she to seek it in Locke, 
so highly extolled by Condillac ? in Leibnitz, who deemed Locke 
so weak in metaphysics? or in Kant, who now attacks both 
Locke and Condillac ? Must she take up the maxims of Minos, 
Lycurgus, Cato, Rousseau, who banish the sciences from their 
republics ? or adopt the opinion of the legislators by whom they 
are tolerated ? What dreadful lessons, if she but looks around 
her ! What an ample subject for reflection, in that well-known 
history of the tree of knowledge which produces death ! The 
ages of philosophy have invariably bordered upon the ages of 

In a question, therefore, which divided the world, -^he Church 
could adopt no other course than that which she has pursued. 

These remarks were never more applicable than at the present day, when 
men have dared in the name of philosophy to degrade religion to the level 
of their blind reason. While metaphysicians, with their pretended science, 
have discarded revelation, geologists have proclaimed man to be but an 
improved species of the monkey ! " Professing -hemselves to be wise, thej 
became fools :" Rom. i. T. 


What could she do more than accommodate herself to times and 
circumstances : oppose morality to the abuse which man makes 
of his knowledge, and endeavor to maintain in him, for the sake 
of his own happiness, a simple heart and an humble mind ? 

To conclude : the vice of the day consists in separating ab 
stract studies rather too much from literary studies. The one 
belongs to the understanding, the others to the heart; we 
should, therefore, beware of cultivating the former to the exclu 
sion of the latter, and of sacrificing the part which loves to the 
part which reasons. It is by a happy combination of natural 
and moral science, and above all by the inculcation of religious 
ideas, that we shall succeed in again giving to our youth that 
education which of old produced so many great men. It must 
not be supposed that our soil is exhausted. The beautiful 
plains of France might again be made to yield abundant har 
vests, were they but cultivated somewhat in the manner of our 
forefathers : tis one of those happy regions where reign those 
tutelar genii of mankind and that divine bi eath which, accord 
ing to Plato, distinguish climates favorable to virtue. 1 



EXAMPLES come to the support of principles ; and a religion 
which can claim a Bacon, a Newton, a Boyle, a Clarke, a 
Leibnitz, a Grotius, a Pascal, an Arnaud, a Nicole, a Malle- 
branche, a La Bruyere, (to say nothing of the fathers of the 
Church, or of Bossuet, Fenelon, Massillon, and Bourdaloue, 
whom we shall here consider only as orators,) such a religion 
may boast of being favorable to philosophy. 3 

1 Plat., de Leg., lib. v. 

2 As to such men as Pascal, Nicole, and Arnaud, it is much to be lamented 
that, while on the one hand they lent their talents to the defence of religion, 
on the other they were misled by a sectarian spirit to foment scandals in the 
Church. T. 


Bacon owes his immortality to his essay On the Advancement 
of Learning, and to his Novum Oryanum Scicntiarum. In the 
former he examines the circle of the sciences, classing each 
object under its respective faculty; he admits four faculties 
the soul or sensation, the memory, the imagination, and the 
understanding. The sciences are here reduced to three : poetry, 
history, and philosophy. 

In the second work he rejects the mode of reasoning by 
syllogism, and proposes experimental physics as the only guide 
in nature. We still read with pleasure the profession of faith 
of the illustrious Lord-Chancellor, and the prayer which he was 
accustomed to repeat before he repaired to business. This 
Christian simplicity in a great man is deeply affecting. When 
Newton and Bossuet respectfully uncovered their august heads 
while pronouncing the name of God, they were perhaps more 
worthy of admiration at that moment than when the former 
weighed those worlds the dust of which the other taught man 
kind to despise. 

Clarke in his Treatise on the Existence of God, Leibnitz in his 
Jlieodicea, Mallebranche in his Inquiry concerning Truth, have 
accomplished so much in metaphysics that they have left nothing 
to be done by their successors. 

It is very extraordinary that our age should imagine itself 
superior to the last in logic and metaphysics. The facts are 
against us. Certainly the Abbe* de Condillac, who has said no 
thing new, cannot singly counterbalance Locke, Descartes, Malle 
branche, and Leibnitz. He merely dissects the first-mentioned 
philosopher, and bewilders himself whenever he attempts to ad 
vance without his guide. Let us observe, also, that the meta 
physical science of the present age differs from that of antiquity 
in this particular that it separates the imagination as much as 
possible from abstract perceptions. We have insulated all the 
faculties of our understanding, reserving thought for one thing, 
reason for another, and so of the rest. The consequence is, that 
our works have no unity, and our minds, thus divided into chap 
ters, are subjected to the inconveniences of those histories in 
which every subject is separately treated of. While we are De- 
ginning a new article, the preceding one escapes our memory. 
We lose the connection which the facts have with each other. 


We fall into confusion from being too methodical^ and the multi 
tude of particular conclusions prevents us from arriving at the 
general deduction. 

When it is the design of a work, like that of Clarke, to attack 
men who pride themselves on their powers of reasoning, and to 
whom you must prove that you can reason as well as they, you 
cannot do better than to adopt the firm and close manner of the 
English divine; but in any other case, why should this dry style 
be preferred to one that is perspicuous and yet animated ? Why 
should you not transfuse your feelings into a serious performance 
as well as into a merely entertaining book ? The metaphysical 
works of Plato are still read with delight, because they are colored 
with a brilliant imagination. Our late metaphysicians have fallen 
into an egregious error in separating the history of the human 
mind from the history of divine things; in maintaining that the 
latter leads to nothing positive, and that the former alone is of 
any immediate utility. Where is the necessity for investigating 
the operations of the mind of man unless it be to refer them to 
God ? Of what advantage is it to me to know whether or not I 
receive my ideas by means of the senses? " All metaphysicians," 
exclaims Condillac, "have bewildered themselves in enchanted 
worlds. I alone have discovered truth. My science is of the 
highest utility. I am going to explain to you the nature of con 
science, of attention, of recollection !" And whither will all this 
lead me ? Nothing is good, nothing is positive, except inasmuch 
as it aims at a moral end. Now, all metaphysical science which 
is not, like that of the ancients and of Christians, based upon theo 
logy, all metaphysics which interpose an abyss between man 
and Glod which assert that, as the latter is but darkness, it 
would be absurd to bestow a thought on the subject, such meta 
physics are at once futile and dangerous, because they have no 

The other kind of knowledge, on the contrary, by associating 
me with the divinity, by giving me an immense idea of my great 
ness, and of the perfection of my being, disposes me to think 
justly and to act virtuously. All moral ends are connected by this 
link with the higher metaphysics, which present but a more 
sublime road to arrive at virtue. This is what Plato termed, by 
way of eminence, the science of the gods, and Pythagoras the 


divine geometry. Beyond this, metaphysics are but a microscope 
that curiously displays some minute objects which would have 
escaped the naked eye, but the ignorance or knowledge of which 
will neither create nor fill up a chasm in our existence. 



Political Writers. 

WE have, of late years, made an extraordinary parade of our 
political knowledge. It might almost be imagined that before 
our time the modern world had never heard of liberty or of the 
different social constitutions. It is probably for this reason that 
we have tried them all with such skill and success. Neverthe 
less, Machiavel, Sir Thomas More, Mariana, Bodin, Grotius, 
Puffendorf, and Locke, all Christian philosophers, had devoted 
their attention to the nature of governments long before Mably 
and Rousseau. 

We shall not enter into any analysis of the works of those pub 
licists whose names we need only mention to prove that every 
species of literary glory belongs to Christianity. We sh.all else 
where show what the liberties of mankind owe to this same reli 
gion, which is accused of inculcating the maxims of slavery. 

It were sincerely to be wished that, if any writers are yet en 
gaged in the discussion of political subjects, (which God forbid !) 
they would introduce into works of this kind those graces which 
the ancients gave to theirs. Xenophon s Cyropsedia, Plato s Re 
public and Laws, are at the same time serious treatises and books 
replete with charms. Plato excels in giving an admirable turn 
to the most barren discussions. lie possesses the art of in 
fusing enchantment into the very exposition of a law. Here we 
see three old men conversing on the way from Gnossus to the 
cavern of Jupiter, and reposing in flowery meads under lofty 
cypresses. There, the involuntary murderer, standing with one foot 


in the sea, offers \ib c tions to Neptune. Farther on, a foreign poet 
is received with songs and perfumes. He is greeted with the 
appellation of a man wholly divine. He is crowned with laurels 
and covered with honors. He is escorted beyond the limits of 
the Republic. Thus Plato has a hundred pleasing ways of setting 
forth his ideas. He softens down the severest sentences by con 
sidering crime in a religious point of view. 

It is worthy of remark that modern political writers have ex 
tolled the republican form of government, whereas those of 
Greece generally gave the preference to monarchy. What is the 
reason of this? Both were dissatisfied with what tlipy had, and 
conceived a predilection for what they had not. Such is the 
history of all mankind. 

We may observe, also, that the sages of Greece viewed society 
in its moral relations; but our latest philosophers have considered 
it in its political bearings. The former insisted that the govern 
ment should flow from the manners of the people; the latter, 
that the manners should be derived from the government. The 
philosophy of the one was founded on religion; the philosophy 
of the others on atheism. "Be virtuous and ye shall be free," 
cried Plato to the people; but they are told nowadays, "Be 
free and ye shall be virtuous." Greece, with such sentiments, 
was happy. What advantages shall we reap from the contrary 
principles ? 



La Bruybre. 

THE writers of the same age, whatever be their difference in 
point of genius, have all, nevertheless, something in common with 
each other. You may know those of the brilliant era of France 
by the energy of their thoughts, the unaffected plainness of their 
expressions, and yet a certain Greek and Latin construction of 


phrase, which, without injuring the genius of the French lan 
guage, denotes the excellent models which those authors had 

Writers are, moreover, divided into groups, if we may be al 
lowed the expression, who follow this or that master this or the 
other school. Thus the writers of Port Royal may be distin 
guished from the writers of the Society. Thus Fenelon, Massil- 
lon,and Flechier, correspond in certain points; and Pascal, Bossuet, 
and La Bruyere, in others. The latter are particularly remarkable 
for a kind of abruptness of thought and style which is peculiar 
to them; but it must be admitted that La Bruyere, who is fond 
of imitating Pascal, 1 sometimes weakens the proofs and the ori 
ginal manner of that great genius. When the author of the 
Caracteres, with a view to demonstrate the insignificance of man, 
says, You are placed, Lucia, somewhere on this atom, &c., he 
remains far behind that famous passage of the author of the 
Pem&s: What in a man in the midst of infinity? Who can 
form a conception of this? 

La Bruyere further observes : There are but three events for 
man to be born, to live, and to die. He has no perception of 
his birth, he sitffirs at his death, and he forgets to live. Pascal 
impresses us much more deeply with our nothingness. Thf fast 
act, says he, is always painful, hoicever pleasing all the rest of 
the comedy may have been. A little earth is thrown upon our 
heads, and tis over with us forever. How terrible are the con 
cluding words! You first see the comedy, and then the grave, 
and then the earth, and then eternity. The carelessness with 
which the expression is thrown out admirably denotes the insig 
nificance of life. What freezing indifference in this brief and 
cold history of man ! a 

1 See in particular his chapter on Freethinkers. 

1 This reflection is omitted in the small edition of Pascal, with notes. The 
editors probably thought that it was not in a fine style. We have heard the 
prose of the age of Louis XIV. censured as deficient in harmony, elegance, and 
precision. We have heard people observe, If liomntet and Pancal were to come 
to life again, they would not write in that manner. " Tis we," they assert, "who 
excel in writing prose, and who far surpass all our predecessors in the art of 
arranging words." Is it not true that we express ordinary ideas in a lofty and 
elaborate style? whereas, the writers of the age of L uis XIV. conveyed the 
grandest conceptions in the most simple language. 


La Bruyere is, nevertheless, one of the best writers of the age 
of Louis XIV. No man ever understood the art of giving more 
variety to his style, a greater diversity of forms to his language, 
and more rapid transitions to his ideas. He descends from the 
heights of eloquence to familiarity, and passes from pleasantry to 
argument, without once offending against taste or shocking the 
reader. Irony is his favorite weapon. Equally philosophical 
with Theophrastus, his view embraces a greater number of objects, 
and h\s remarks are more original and more profound. Theo 
phrastus conjectures, La Rochefoucault d vines, and La Bruyere 
shows what is passing in the recesses of the heart. 

It is a great triumph for Religion that she can number among 
her philosophers a Pascal and a La Bruyere; and, after such ex 
amples, it should not be quite so readily asserted that none but 
persons of shallow understanding can be Christians. 

"If my religion be false," says the author of the Caracferes, 
"it is, I must own, the most artful snare that could possibly be 
devised. It is impossible to avoid falling into it and being caught. 
What majesty, what magnificence, in its mysteries! What co 
herency, what connection, in all its doctrines ! What sound rea 
son ! What candor ! What innocence of morals ! What an in 
vincible and overwhelming body of evidence is given successively, 
and for three whole centuries, by millions of the most learned 
and most considerate persons then in the world, and whom the 
conviction of one and the same truth supported in exile, in 
fetters, at the approach of death, and under the most cruel 
torments V 

Could La Bruyere revisit the earth, what would be his astonish 
ment to find that religion whose beauty and excellence were 
acknowledged by the greatest men of his age, now termed infa 
mous, ridiculous, and absurd! He would doubtless imagine 
that the new freethinkers are far superior to the writers who 
preceded them, and that, in comparison with them, Pascal, Bos- 
suet, Fenelon, and Racine, are authors destitute of genius. He 
would open their works with profound attention and a respect 
mingled with fear. In every line he would expect to find some 
important discovery of the human mind, some lofty idea, per- 
haps even some historical fact, before unknown, to prove irre- 
fragably the fa sehood of Christianity. What then would he say. 

PASCAL. 411 

what would he think, in his second astonishmeL t, which would 
very soon succeed the first ? 

We want a La Bruyere. The Revolution has produced a total 
change in characters. Avarice, ignorance, selfishness, appear in 
a thousand new lights. These vices, in the age of Louis XIV., 
were compounded with religion and politeness; now they are 
mixed up with impiety and coarseness of manners. In the 
seventeenth century, therefore, they must have had finer tints 
and more delicate shades. At that period they might have been 
ridiculous; but it is certain that now they are detestable. 



THERE was a genius who, at the age of twelve years, had with 
bars and rings created the mathematics ; who, at sixteen, had 
composed the ablest treatise on conic sections that had appeared 
since the time of the ancients; who, at nineteen, reduced to a 
machine a science existing entirely in the understanding; who, 
at twenty-three, demonstrated the phenomena of the gravity of 
the air, and overthrew one of the great errors of ancient physics; 
who, at an age when the intellectual faculties scarcely begin to 
expand in others, having gone through the whole circle of human 
sciences, discovered their inanity, and turned all his thoughts 
toward religion; who, from that moment till his death, (which 
happened in his thirty-ninth year,) amid incessant bodily infirmi 
ties, fixed the language spoken by Bossuet and Racine, and 
furnished a model of the most perfect facetiousness as well as of 
the strongest reasoning; finally, who, in the short intervals of 
ease, resolved, unassisted, one of the profoundest problems of 
geometry, and scattered at random upon paper thoughts not less 
indicative of a superhuman than of a human mind. The name 
of this stupendous genius was BLAISE PASCAL.* 

1 In portraying the genius of Pascal, our author followed the opinion cf 
tome authors who appear to have awarded him honors which belonged tc 


It is difficult not to be overwhelmed with astonishment when, 
on opening the Thoughts of the Christian philosopher, we light 
upon the six chapters in which he treats of the nature of man 
The sentiments of Pascal are particularly remarkable for their 
profound melancholy and a certain immensity which I cannot 
describe : you are suspended among these sentiments as in the 
midst of infinity. Metaphysicians speak of that abstract thought 
which has none of the properties of matter, which explores all 
things without moving from the spot, which lives of itself, whi< h 
is imperishable because indivisible, and which positively proves 
the immortality of the soul. This definition of thought seems to 
have been suggested to metaphysicians by the works of Pascal. 

There exists a curious monument of Christian philosophy and 
the philosophy of the present day : it is the Thoughts of Pascal 
with the annotations of editors. 1 It is like the ruins of Palmyra, 
the superb relics of genius .and of past ages, at the foot of which 
the Arab of the desert has built his miserable hut. 

"Pascal/ says Voltaire, "a sublime madman, born a century 
too early." The signification of this century too early must be 
obvious to every reader. One single observation will suffice to 
show how inferior Pascal the sophist would have been to Pascal 
the Christian. 

In what part of his works has the recluse of Port Royal soared 
above the greatest geniuses? In his six chapters on man. Now 
these six chapters, which turn entirely on the original fall of 
man, would not exist had Pascal been an unbeliever. 

We shall here make an observation of the highest importance. 
Among those who have embraced the philosophic opinions, some 
are incessantly decrying the age of Louis XIV., while others, 
priding themselves on their impartiality, allow that age the 
faculties of imagination, but deny it those of reas m. The 
eighteenth century, say they, is pre-eminently the thinking age. 

Any impartial person who reads with attention the writers of 

others. Torricelli and Descartes had preceded him in the demonstration of the 
gravity of the atmosphere; and as to his treatise on conic sections, he himself 
admitted that he had derived his information from a work of Des-Argues. But, 
independently of these discoveries, Pascal has undoubted claims to be ranked 
among the profoundest minds that evw existed. T. 
1 See note Y. 

PASCAL. 413 

the age of Louis XIV., will soon discover thai nothing escaped 
their sight; but that, contemplating objects from a higher stand 
point than we do, they disdained the routes which we pursue, 
and at the end of which their piercing eyes discovered a fatal 

This assertion we might support with a thousand proofs. Was 
it from ignorance of the objections against religion that so many 
great men were religious ? Was it not at this very period that 
Eayle published his doubts and his sophisms? Is it no longer 
known that Clarke and Leibnitz were then wholly engaged in 
combating infidelity? that Pascal had planned a defence of reli 
gion? that La Bruyere composed his chapter on Freethinkers, 
and Massillon his sermon on the Reality of a Future State f that, 
finally, Bossuet hurled at the heads of atheists those overwhelming 
words : " What have they seen these extraordinary geniuses, 
what have they seen more than others f What ignorance is 
theirs ! and how easy it would be to confound them, if, weak and 
presumptuous, they were not afraid of being instructed ! For 
do they think that they have more clearly perceived the diffi 
culties because they sink under them and because others who 
have seen them have despised them? They have seen nothing; 
they know nothing; they have not even the means to establish 
that annihilation for which they hope after this life, and which, 
miserable lot as it is, they are not sure of enjoying." 

And what relations, moral, political, or religious, escaped the 
observation of Pascal? What aspect of things has he not 
examined? If he considers human nature in general, he draws 
that well-known and astonishing picture: "The first thing that 
presents itself to man, when he surveys himself, is his body," 
&c In another place he says, "Man is but a thinking reed," 
&c. Has Pascal, we would ask, shown himself in all this a 
shallow thinker f 

Modern writers have expatiated much on the power of opinion, 
and Pascal was the first who made the observation. One of the 
strongest political reflections thrown out by Rousseau is found 
in his discourse on the Inequality of Conditions: "The first," 
says he, "who, having enclosed a piece of ground, took it into 
his head to say, This is mine, was the real founder of civil 
society." Now this is almost word for word the awful idea 



which the recluse of Port Royal has expressed with a very dif 
ferent kind of energy: "This dog is mine, said those poor chil 
dren; that is my place in the sunshine; such was the com 
mencement and the image of the usurpation of the whole earth." 

This, too, is one of those thoughts which make us tremble 
for Pascal. What would have become of that great man had he 
not been a Christian ? How adorable is that curb of religion, 
which, without restraining our comprehensive views, holds us 
back from the brink of the precipice ! 

Tis the same Pascal who has also observed : " Three degrees 
of latitude overthrow all jurisprudence. A meridian determines 
truth, or a few years of possession. Fundamental law changes; 
right has its epochs; a pretty sort of justice that is bounded by 
a river or a mountain ! Truth on this side of the Pyrenees may 
be error on the other." 

Surely, the boldest spectator of the present age, the writer 
most intent on generalizing ideas in order to convulse the world, 
never pronounced a keener satire on the justice of governments 
and the prejudices of nations. 

All the insults which by means of philosophy we have heaped 
upon human nature have been in a greater or lesser degree de 
rived from the works of Pascal. But in robbing this extraor 
dinary genius of his ideas on the miseries of man, we have not 
known, like him, how to discover the greatness of man. Bossuet 
and Fene*lon, the former in his Histtrire Universelle, his Avertisse- 
mens, and his Politique tire de T Ecriture sainte, the latter in 
his TeUmaque, have said every thing essential on the subject of 
governments. Montesquieu himself, as it has very justly been 
remarked, has often done no more than develop the principles of 
the Bishop of Meaux. "We might fill volumes were we to select 
all the passages favorable to liberty and the love of country 
which occur in the authors of the seventeenth century. 

What improvement was unattempted in that age ?* The 
equalization of weights and measures, the abolition of provincial 
customs, the reformation of the civil and criminal code, the 
equal division of taxes, all those plans of which we so loudly 
boast, were proposed, discussed, and even executed when tho 

1 See note Z. 

PASCAL. 415 

advantages of the reform appeared to counterbalance its incon- 
veniencies. Did not Bossuet even project a union between the 
Protestant Church and that of Rome? When we consider that 
Bagnoli, Le Maitre, Arnaud, Nicole, and Pascal, devoted them 
selves to the education of youth, we shall scarcely imagine that 
education at the present day is better understood or more scientifi 
cally conducted. The best classical books that we even now 
possess are those of Port Royal, and in all our elementary works 
we do no more than repeat them, often taking especial care to 
conceal our thefts. 

Our superiority, then, is reduced to some little progress in the 
natural sciences, a progress resulting from that of time, and by 
no means compensating for the loss of the imagination which is 
the consequence of it. The mind is the same in all ages; but 
it is more particularly accompanied either by the arts or by the 
sciences : it is only with the former that it possesses all its poetic 
grandeur and moral beauty. 

But it may be asked, if the age of Louis XIV. conceived all 
kinds of liberal ideas, how happens it that it neglected to make 
the same use of them as we have done ? Ah ! let us not boast of 
our experiments. Pascal, Bossuet, Fe*ne"lon, saw much farther 
than we do ; for, at the same time that they were as well ac 
quainted with the nature of things as we are, and even better, 
they were aware of the danger of innovations. Did their works 
furnish no evidence of philosophical thought, yet could we sup 
pose that these great men were not struck with the abuses which 
creep in on every side, and that they were unacquainted with the 
weak and the strong side of human affairs ? But their principle 
was that a small evil owjht not to be done even for the sake of a 
great yood, 1 and still less in behalf of vain systems, which are 
almost invariably productive of deplorable results. It was cer 
tainly not from any want of genius that this same Pascal, who, 
as we have already shown, understood so well the defect of laws 
in the absolute sense, observed in the relative sense, " How wise 
it is to distinguish men by external qualities ! Which of us two 
shall give way to the other ? the least clever ? But I am as 
clever as he is ; we must fight it out. He has four lacqueys, and 

Hittory of Port Royal. 


I have but one ; that is clear, if I will but count : I must give 
way, and I am a fool if I dispute the point." 

Here is a reply to volumes of sophisms. The author of the 
Thoughts submitting to four lacqueys is a very different sort of 
philosopher from all those thinkers whom the four lacqueys have 

In a word, the age of Louis XIV. continued tranquil, not be 
cause this or that thing was unperceived by it, but because, on 
making a discovery, it examined it thoroughly, considering it on 
every side and exploring all its dangers. If it did not plunge 
into the ideas of the times, the reason is that it was superior to 
them. We take its strength for its weakness ; its secret and ours 
are comprised in this reflection of Pascal : 

" The sciences have two extremities, which touch one another : 
the first is pure natural ignorance, the state of all mankind at 
their birth; the other extremity is that at which all great minds 
arrive, who, after traversing the whole circle of human know 
ledge, discover that they know nothing, and find themselves in 
the same ignorance from which they set out, but it is a scientific 
ignorance, which is acquainted with itself. Those who have left 
the state of natural ignorance, and have not been able to reach 
the other, have some tincture of that self-sufficient science, and 
are puffed up with conceit. These are disturbers of society, and 
their judgments are more false than those of any of the others. 
The vulgar and the real scholars compose the mass of the world ; 
the others despise them, and are despised by them." 

Here we cannot forbear to make a sorrowful reflection on our 
selves. Pascal had undertaken to give to the world the work of 
which we now -publish so small a portion. What a master-piece 
would such a philosopher have produced ! If God permitted him 
not to execute his design, it was, probably, because it is not fit 
that all doubts on the subject of faith should be removed; that 
there may be matter left for those temptations and trials which 
produce saints and martyrs. 




IF Christianity has so greatly conduced to the advancement of 
philosophical ideas, it must of course be favorable to the genius 
of history, which is but a branch of moral and political philosophy. 
Whoever rejects the sublime notions of nature and her Author 
which religion inspires wilfully deprives himself of an abundant 
source of images and ideas. 

He, in fact, will be most intimately acquainted with man who 
has long meditated on the designs of Providence ; he will be best 
able to fathom human wisdom who has penetrated into the depths 
of the divine intelligence. The designs of kings, the vices of 
cities, the unjust and crooked measures of civil policy, the rest 
lessness of the heart from the secret working of the passions, those 
long agitations with which nations are at times seized, those 
changes of power from the king to the subject, from the noble to 
the plebeian, from the rich to the poor, all these subjects will be 
inexplicable to you, if you have not, as it were, attended the 
council of the Most High, and considered the spirit of strength, 
of prudence, of weakness, or of error, which he dispenses to the 
nations whose salvation or whose ruin he decrees. 

Eternity, therefore, should be the groundwork of the history 
of time, every thing being referred to God as the universal cause. 
You may extol, as much as you please, the writer who, penetrat 
ing into the secrets of the human heart, deduces the most im 
portant events from the most trivial sources : a God watching 
over the kingdoms of the earth; impiety, that is to say, the 
absence of moral virtues, becoming the immediate cause of the 

2B 417 


calamities of nations ; this, in our opinion, is an historical foun 
dation far more noble and far more solid than the other. 

The French revolution will afford an illustration of this re 
mark. Were they any ordinary causes, we would ask, which in 
the course of a few years perverted all our affections and banished 
from among us that simplicity and greatness peculiar to the heart 
of man ? The spirit of God having withdrawn from the people, 
no force was left except that of original sin, which resumed its 
empire as in the days of Cain and his race. Whoever would 
have followed the dictates of reason felt a certain incapability of 
good; whoever extended a pacific hand beheld that hand sud 
denly withered ; the bloody flag waved over the ramparts of every 
city ; war was declared against all nations ; then were fulfilled 
the words of the prophet : " They shall cast out the bones of the 
kings of Judah, and the bones of the princes thereof, and the 
bones of the priests, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusa 
lem, out of their graves." 1 Streams of blood flowed in all quar 
ters : culpable in regard to the past, fanaticism swept away the 
old institutions ; culpable in regard to the future, it founded no 
thing new for posterity; the tombs of our ancestors and the 
rising generation were alike profaned. In that line of life which 
was transmitted to us by our ancestors, and which it is our duty 
to prolong beyond our own existence, each confined his views to 
the present, and, consecrating himself to his own corruption as 
to an abominable worship, lived as if nothing had preceded and 
as if nothing was to follow him. 

But, while this spirit of destruction was internally devouring 
France, a spirit of salvation was protecting her against external 
injury. She had neither prudence nor greatness except on her 
frontiers; within all was devastation, without all was triumph. 
The country no longer resided in the homes of her children ; it 
exists in a camp on the Rhine, as in the time of the Merovingian 
dynasty. You would have imagined that you beheld the Jewish 
nation expelled from the land of Gesscn, and subduing the bar 
barous nations in the desert. 

Such a combination of things has no natural principle in human 
events. The religious writer alone can here discover the profound 

1 Jerem. viii. 1. 


counsels of the Most High. Had the combined powers attempted 
only to put an end to the excesses of Robespierre, and then left 
France entire to repair her calamities and her errors, they had, 
perhaps, gained their point. But God beheld the iniquity of 
courts, and said to the foreign soldier, " I will break the sword 
in thy hand, and thou shall not destroy the people of St. Louis. " 
Thus religion seems to lead to the explanation of the most in 
comprehensible facts in history. There is, moreover, in the name 
of God something sublime, which imparts to the style a certain 
wonderful power, so that the most religious writer is almost in 
variably the most eloquent. Without religion, it is possible to 
have wit, but very difficult to possess genius. Add to this, you 
perceive in the Christian historian the tone, we had almost said 
the taste, of an honest man, which renders you disposed to give 
implicit credit to all that he relates. On the contrary, you mis 
trust the sophistical historian ; for, as he almost always represents 
society in an unfavorable light, you are inclined to look upon him 
as a deceiver. 



First Cause The Beauties of the Ancient Subjects. 

A POWERFUL objection here occurs : If Christianity is favor 
able to the genius of history, how happens it that modern writers 
are in general inferior to those of antiquity in this profound and 
important department of literature ? 

In the first place, the fact assumed in this objection is not 
strictly true, since one of the most beautiful historical monuments 
that exists among men the Discourse on Universal History was 
dictated by the spirit of Christianity. But, deferring for a mo 
ment our considerations on that work, let us inquire into the 


causes of our inferiority in history, if that inferiority actually 
exists. These causes are, in our opinion, of two kinds; some be 
longing to history, and others to the historian. 

Ancient history presents a picture which has no parallel in 
modern times. The Greeks were particularly remarkable for the 
greatness of men the Romans for the greatness of things. 
Rome and Athens, setting out from a state of nature and attain 
ing the highest degree of civilization, traversed the entire scale 
of the virtues and the vices, of ignorance and the arts. You ob 
serve the growth of man and of his intellect. At first a child, 
then the sport of all the passions in youth, strong and wise in ma- 
turer years, infirm and corrupt in his old age. The state follows 
the man, passing from the royal or paternal government to the 
republican constitution, and then sinking with decrepitude into 

Though modern nations exhibit, as we shall presently have oc 
casion to observe, some interesting epochs, some celebrated reigns, 
some brilliant portraits^ some illustrious actions, yet it must be 
confessed that they do not furnish the historian with that combi 
nation of things, that sublimity of lessons, which make ancient 
history a complete whole and a finished picture. They did not 
begin with the first step. They did not form themselves by de 
grees. They were suddenly transported from the recesses of 
forests and the savage state into the midst of cities and civiliza 
tion. They are but young branches engrafted upon an aged 
trunk. Thus their origin is involved in darkness. You perceive 
there at the same time the greatest virtues and the greatest vices ; 
gross ignorance and gleams of light; vague notions of justice and 
of government; a confused medley in manners and in language. 
These nations have not passed either through that state io 
which good manners make the laws, or that in which good laws 
make the manners. 

These nations having established themselves upon the ruins of 
the ancient world, another phenomenon strikes the historian. 
Every thing suddenly assumes a regular appearance, a uniform 
aspect. He discovers monarchies on every side, while the few 
petty republics intermixed with them are either converted intc 
principalities or absorbed by the neighboring kingdoms. At the 
same time, the arts and sciences are developed ; but in silence 


and obscurity. They separate themselves, as it were, from the 
destinies of man. They cease to influence the fate of empires. 
Confined to a small class of citizens, they become rather an object 
of luxury and curiosity than an additional element of national 

Thus every thing is consolidated at once. A religious and poli 
tical balance keeps all the different parts of Europe upon a level. 
None of them is now liable to destruction. The most insignificant 


modern state may boast of a duration equal to that of the empire 
of a Cyrus or a Caesar. Christianity is the sheet-anchor which 
has fixed so many floating nations and kept them in port; but 
their ruin is almost certain if they come to break the common 
chain by which religion holds them together. 

Now, by diffusing over nations that uniformity, and, if we may 
so express it, that monotony of manners which the laws produced 
in ancient Egypt, and which they still occasion in India and 
China, Christianity has of course rendered the colors of history 
less vivid. Those general virtues of all ages and of all countries, 
such as humanity, modesty, charity, which it has substituted in- 
stead of the doubtful political virtues, have also less scope on the 
theatre of the world. As they are genuine virtues, they shun the 
glare of light and the clamor of fame. Among the modern na 
tions there is a certain silence in affairs which disconcerts the 
historian. Far be it from us to complain of this! The moral 
man among us is far superior to the moral man of the ancients. 
Our reason is not perverted by an abominable religion. We 
adore no monst-ers. Obscenity walks not forth with unblushing 
face among Christians. We have neither gladiators nor slaves. 
It is not very long since the sight of blood thrilled us with horror. 
Ah ! let us not envy the Romans their Tacitus if it be necessarj 
to purchase him with a Tiberius 1 




Second Cause The Ancients Exhausted all the Historical 
Styles except the Christian Style. 

To this first cause of the inferiority of our historians, arising 
from the very nature of the subjects, must be added a second, 
originating in the manner in which the ancients wrote history. 
They exhausted all its colors, and if Christianity had not fur 
nished a new order of reflections and ideas, the doors of history 
would have been forever closed against the moderns. 

Young and brilliant in the time of Herodotus, she held forth 
to the view of Greece natural pictures of the birth of society 
and the primitive manners of men. The historian of those days 
enjoyed the incalculable advantage of writing the annals of fable 
while writing those of truth. He needed but to paint, and not 
to reflect. The vices and virtues of nations were as yet only in 
their poetical age. 

Other times brought with them other manners. Thucydides 
was deprived of those admirable delineations of the cradle of the 
world; but he entered a hitherto uncultivated field of history. 
He traced with energy and gravity the evils occasioned by poli 
tical dissensions, leaving to posterity examples by which it never 

Xenophon, in his turn, discovered a new path. Without be 
coming dull, or sacrificing any portion of Attic elegance, he took 
a pious view of the human heart, and became the father of moral 

Placed on a more extensive stage, and in the only country 
where two species of eloquence that of the bar and that of poli 
tics flourished, Livy transfused them both into his works. He 
was the orator, as Herodotus was the poet, of history. 

Finally, the corruption of mankind the execrable reigns of a 
Tiberius and a Nero gave birth to the last species of history, 


the philosophical. The causes of events which Herodotus had 
sought in the gods, Thucydides in political constitutions, Xeno- 
phon in morals, and Livy in the concurrence of all these different 
circumstances combined Tacitus discovered in the depravity 
of the human heart. 

We would not, however, be understood to assert that these 
great historians shine exclusively in the characters which we 
have taken the liberty to assign to them j but it appears to us that 
these are the distinctive features of their works. Between these 
primitive characters of history there are tints which were 
seized by historians of an inferior rank. Thus, Polybius takes 
his place between Thucydides the politician and Xenophon the 
philosophic soldier. Sallust partakes at once of the respective 
manners of Tacitus and Livy ; but the forme* surpasses him in 
energy of thought, and the latter in beauty of narration. Sue 
tonius wrote biography without reflection and without reserve. 
Plutarch added morality to it. Velleius Paterculus learned to 
generalize without distorting history. Floras produced a philo 
sophical epitome of it. Lastly, Diodorus Siculus, Dionysius of 
Halicarnassus, Cornelius Nepos, Quintus Curtius, Aurelius Victor, 
Ammianus Marcellinus, Justin, Eutropius, and others whom we 
forbear to mention or whose names have slipped our memory, 
conducted history down to the period when it fell into the hands 
of Christian authors, a period when a total change took place in 
the minds and in the manners of men. 

Between truths and illusions the case is widely different. The 
latter are inexhaustible, and the circle of the former is confined. 
Poetry is ever new, and this it is that constitutes its charm in 
the eyes of men. But in morals and in history you are limited 
to the narrow sphere of truth. Do what you will, you cannot 
avoid the repetition of known observations. What historical 
field, then, was left for the moderns which had not been previously 
explored ? They could do no more than imitate ; and in these 
imitations several causes prevented their attaining to the eleva 
tion of their originals. As poetry, the origin of the Catti, the 
Tencteri, the Mattiaci, in the depths of the Hercynian Forest, 
displayed nothing of that brilliant Olympus, of those cities reared 
by the sounds of the lyre, and of the whole enchanted infancy of 
the Hellenes and of the Pelasgi, planted on the banks of the 


Achelous and the Eurotas. In politics, the feudal system for 
bade important lessons. As to eloquence, there was only that 
of the pulpit. As to philosophy, the nations were not yet suf 
ficiently miserable or sufficiently corrupt for it to begin to make 
its appearance. 

Imitations were, however, produced with more or less success. 
Bentivoglio in Italy copied Livy, and would be eloquent were he 
not affected. Davila, Guicciardini, and Fra Paolo, had more sim 
plicity, ad Mariana, in Spain, displayed considerable talents; 
but this fiery Jesuit disgraced a department of literature whose 
highest merit is impartiality. 1 Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon, 
have more or less followed Sallust or Tacitus ; but the latter his 
torian has produced two writers not inferior to himself, Machiavel 
and Montesquieu.* 

Tacitus, however, should not be chosen for a model without 
great caution. The adoption of Livy is liable to fewer inconve 
niences. The eloquence of the former is too peculiarly his own to 
be attempted by any one who is not possessed of his genius. Taci 
tus, Machiavel, and Montesquieu, have formed a dangerous school, 
by introducing those ambitious expressions, those dry phrases, 

1 Mariana, a native of Spain, flourished in the fifteenth and sixteenth cen 
turies. Our author very probably borrowed his opinion of Mariana s historical 
merit from the Abbe Mably s work on the manner of writing history. Mably, 
however, admits that his knowledge of Mariana was not derived from his own 
personal reading. What rendered Mariana obnoxious to the French was not 
the defect of his style as the historian of Spain, but his fierce denunciation of 
tyranny and fearless advocacy of democratic principles in his work, De Rege et 
Regis institutione. To men who, like Chateaubriand, had just emerged from 
the horrors of the French revolution, an author like Mariana might well have 
appeared fiery, though teaching the simple truth. The character of doctrines 
depends much upon the times in which they appear. The fact is, the Jesuits 
have had a difficult position amid the inconsistencies of the human mind. 
When they have vindicated the rights of authority in defending the funda 
mental principles of order and law, they have been condemned as the friends 
of tyranny ; and when, pursuing the same line of truth, they have denounced 
despotism and advocated the rights of the people, they have been held up as 
the enemies of social order! Thus, when John the Baptist came, neither eat 
ing bread nor drinking wine, the Jews declared that he had a devil; and 
when Christ appeared, eating and drinking, the same Jews pronounced him 
a glutton. The Jesuits, therefore, will always answer the world as he an 
swered the Jews: "And wisdom is justified by all her children." Luk 
vii. T. 


those abrupt turns, which, under the appearance of brevity, bor- 
dur on obscurity and bad taste. 

Let us, then, leave this manner to those immortal geniuses 
who, from different causes, have created a peculiar style ; a style 
which they alone can support, and which it is dangerous to imi 
tate. Be it remembered that the writers of the most brilliant 
eras of literature were strangers to that studied conciseness of 
ideas and language. The ideas of Livy and Bossuet are copious, 
and strictly concatenated ; with them, every word arises out of 
that which goes before it, and gives birth to the word which is 
to follow. Great rivers, if we may be allowed to use this simile, 
flow not at intervals in a right line j their currents, slowly rolling 
from their distant sources, are continually increasing ; they take 
a large and circuitous sweep in the plains, embracing cities and 
forests with their mighty arms, and discharging into the ocean 
streams of water capable of filling its deepest caverns. 



HERE is another question, which relates exclusively to the 
French : Why have we nothing but memoirs instead of history, 
and why are almost all of these memoirs excellent? 

The Frenchman, in all ages, even while yet a barbarian, was 
vain, thoughtless, and sociable. He reflects little upon objects in 
general, but he is an inquisitive observer of details, and his eye 
is quick, penetrating, and accurate. He must always be upon the 
stage himself, and even in the quality of an historian he cannot 
make up his mind to keep entirely out of sight. Memoirs leave 
him at full liberty to follow the bent of his genius. There, with 
out quitting the theatre, he introduces his observations, which 
are always intelligent and sometimes profound. He is fond of 
saying, 1 was there, and the king said to me The prince in 
formed me I gave my advice, I foresaw the benefit or the mis 
chief. In this manner his vanity gratifies itself; he makes a 


display of his wit to the reader ; and his solicitude to gain credit 
for ingenious ideas often leads him to think well. In this kind 
of history, moreover, he is not obliged to renounce his passions, 
from which he finds it difficult to part. He is an enthusiast in 
this or that cause, in behalf of this or that person ; and, some 
times insulting the adverse party, at others jeering his own, he 
at once indulges his revenge and gives vent to his spleen. 

From the Sire de Joinville to the Cardinal de Retz, from the 
memoirs of the time of the League to those of the time of the 
Fronde, this character is everywhere conspicuous ; it betrays it 
self even in the grave Sully. But when you would tranfer to 
history this art of details, the whole scene is changed ; for weak 
tints are lost in large pictures, like slight undulations on the 
surface of the ocean. Compelled in this case to generalize our 
observations, we fall into the spirit of system. Add to this that, 
being prevented from speaking openly of ourselves, we appear 
behind all the characters of our history. In the narrative we 
become jejune, prolix, and circumstantial, because we chat much 
better than we relate ; in general reflections we are trivial or vul 
gar, because we are intimately acquainted with him only with 
whom we associate. 1 

Finally, the private life of the French is, perhaps, another cir 
cumstance unfavorable to the genius of history. Tranquillity of 
mind is necessary for him who would write well upon men. Now 
our literati, living in general without families, or at least out of 
their families, their passions restless and their days miserably 
devoted to the gratification of vanity, acquire habits which are 
directly at variance with the gravity of history. This practice 
of confining our whole existence within a certain circle must, of 
course, shorten our sight and contract our ideas. Too attentive 
to a nature that is but the creature of compact, genuine nature 

i We know that there are exceptions, and that some French writers have 
distinguished themselves as historians; we shall presently do justice to their 
merit. But it seems to us that it would he unfair to found an objection upon 
this fact, which could not affect the truth of our general assertion. Otherwise, 
there would be no truth in criticism. General theories partake not of the 
nature of man, in which the purest truth contains always some mixture of 
error. Truth in man is like a triangle, which can have but one right angle, 
afi if nature had wished to impress an image of our defective virtue upon tho 
very science which alone we consider certain. 


eludes our observation ; we scarcely ever reason upon it. except 
by an extraordinary effort, and, as it were, by accident ; and when 
we happen to be right, it is the result of conjecture more than of 

We may therefore safely conclude that to the revolution in 
human affairs, to a different order of things and of times, to the 
difficulty of striking out new tracks in morals, in politics, and in 
philosophy, we must ascribe the inferiority of the moderns in 
history ; and as to the French, if they have in general good me 
moirs only, it is in their peculiar character that we must seek the 
reason of this singularity. 

By some, it has been referred to political causes ; if, say they, 
history has not risen among us to the standard of antiquity, it is 
because her independent genius has always been fettered. This 
assertion seems to be flatly contradicted by facts. In no age, in 
no country, under no form of government, was greater freedom 
of thought enjoyed than in France during the time of the mon 
archy. Some acts of oppression, some severe or unjust proceed 
ings of the censors of the press, may, no doubt, be adduced ; but 
would they counterbalance the numberless contrary examples ?* 
Turn to our memoirs, and in every page of them you will find the 
severest and often the most offensive truths levelled against kings, 
priests, and nobles. The Frenchman has never bowed with abject 
servility to the yoke ; he has always indemnified himself by the 
independence of his opinion for the constraint imposed upon him 
by monarchical forms. The Talcs of Rabelais, the treatise on 
Voluntary Slavery by La Beotie, the Essays of Montaigne, the 
Morals of Charron, the Republics of Boddin, all the works iii 
favor of the League, the treatise in which Mariana even goes so 
far as to defend regicide, are sufficient proofs that the privilege 
of unlimited discussion belonged to other times as well as to the 
present. If the citizen rather than the subject constituted the 
historian, how happens it that Tacitus, Livy himself, and among 
us the Bishop of Meaux and Montesquieu, gave their severe les 
sons under the most absolute masters that ever reigned ? Never 
did they imagine, while censuring dishonorable actions and prais 
ing the virtuous, that the liberty of writing consisted in abusing 

1 See note AA. 


governments and shaking the foundations of duty. Had they made 
so pernicious a use of their talents, Augustus, Trajan, and Louis 
would most assuredly have compelled them to be silent ; but is 
not this kind of dependence a benefit rather than an evil ? When 
Voltaire submitted to a lawful censure, he gave us Charles XII. 
and the Age of Louis XIV.; when he broke through all restraint, 
he produced only the Essay on Manners. There are truths which 
prove the source of the greatest disorders, because they inflame 
all the passions ; and yet, unless a just authority closes our lips, 
it is precisely these that we take the highest pleasure in reveal 
ing, because they gratify, at one and the same time, the malignity 
of our hearts corrupted by the fall, and our primitive propensity 
to the truth. 



IT is now but just to consider the reverse of the picture, and 
to show that modern history is still capable of being highly in 
teresting, if treated by some skilful hand. The establishment of 
the Franks in Gaul, Charlemagne, the crusades, chivalry, a battle 
of Bouvines, the last branch of an imperial family perishing at 
Naples on a scaffold, a battle of Lepanto, a Henry IV. in France, 
a Charles I. in England, present at least memorable epochs, sin 
gular manners, celebrated events, tragic catastrophes. But the 
grand point to be seized in modern history is the change pro 
duced by Christianity in social order. By erecting morals on a 
new basis, it has modified the character of nations, and created in 
Europe a race of men totally different from the ancients in opi 
nions, government, customs, manners, arts, and sciences. 

And what characteristic traits do the new nations exhibit ! 
Here are the Germans, a people among whom the radical cor 
ruption of the higher classes has never extended its influence to 
the lower j where the indifference of the former toward their 
country has never prevented the latter from being sincerely at- 


tached to it ; a people among whom the spirit of revolt and of 
fidelity, of slavery and of independence, has never changed since 
the days of Tacitus. 

There you behold the laborious Batavians, whose information 
comes from their good sense, their ingenuity from industry, their 
virtues from coldness, and their passions from reason. 

Italy, with her hundred princes and magnificent recollections, 
forms a strong contrast to obscure and republican Switzerland. 

Spain, cut off from other nations, still presents a more original 
character to the historian. The kind of stagnation of manners 
in which she lies will, perhaps, one day prove of advantage to 
her, and, when all the other European nations will have been 
exhausted by corruption, she alone will be able to appear with 
lustre upon the stage of the world, because there the ground 
work of morals will still subsist. 

A mixture of German and French blood, the English nation 
displays in every thing its double origin. Its government, a 
compound of royalty and aristocracy; its religion, less pompous 
than the Catholic, but more brilliant than the Lutheran; its 
soldiers, at once robust and active; its literature and its arts; 
finally, the language, the very features and persons, of the 
English, partake of the two sources from which they are de 
scended. With German simplicity, sedateucss, good sense, and 
deliberation, they combine the fire, impetuosity, levity, vivacity, 
and elegance of mind, which distinguish the French. 

The English have public spirit, and we have national honor; 
our good qualities are rather the gifts of divine favor than the 
effects of a political education. Like the demi-gods, we are more 
nearly allied to heaven than to earth. 

The French, the eldest sons of antiquity, are Romans in 
genius and Greeks in character. Restless and fickle in pros 
perity, constant and invincible in adversity; formed for all the 
arts ; polished even to excess during the tranquillity of the 
state; rude and savage in political commotions; tossed, like 
ships without ballast, by the vehemence of all the passions, 
one moment in the skies, the next in the abyss; enthusiasts 
alike in, good and in evil, doing the former without expecting 
thanks and the latter without feeling remorse ; remembering 
neither their crimes nor their virtues ; pusillanimously attached 


to life in time of peace, prodigal of their blood in battle; vain, 
satirical, ambitious, fond at once of old fashions and of innova 
tions; despising all mankind except themselves; individually the 
most amiable, collectively the most disagreeable of men ; charm 
ing in their own country, insupportable abroad ; alternately 
more gentle, more innocent than the lamb submitting to the 
knife, and more merciless, more ferocious than the tiger spring 
ing upon his prey : such were the Athenians of old, and such 
are the French of the present day. 

Having thus balanced the advantages and the disadvantages 
of modern history and of ancient history, it is time to remind 
the reader that, if the historians of antiquity are, in general, 
superior to ours, this truth is nevertheless liable to great excep 
tions. We shall now proceed to show that, thanks to the spirit 
of Christianity, French genius has almost attained the same 
perfection in this noble department of literature as in its other 



" VOLTAIRE," says Montesquieu, " will never compose a good 
history; he is like the monks, who write not for the sake of the 
subject of which they treat, but for the glory of their order. 
Voltaire writes for his convent." 

This opinion, applied to the Age of Louis XIV. and the 
History of Charles XII., is far too severe, but perfectly accu 
rate in regard to the Essay on the Manners of Nations. 1 Two 
authors, in particular, were formidable to those who combated 
Christianity, Pascal, and Bossuet. These, then, it was necessary 
to attack, and to endeavor, indirectly, to destroy their authority. 

l An unguarded word in Voltaire s Correspondence shows what was hi? 
design, and what the historical truth he aimed at, in writing ftie Essay. 
" I have made a burlesque of the whole world: it is a good hit. Corresp. 
ffen., tome v. p. 94. 


Hence the edition of Pascal with notes, and the Essay, which 
was held up in opposition to the Discourse on Universal History. 
But never did the anti-religious party, in other respects too 
successful, commit a grosser error or afford Christianity a greater 
triumph. It is scarcely conceivable how Voltaire, with so 
much taste and discrimination, should not have understood 
the danger of a conflict, hand to hand, with Bossuet and Pascal. 
The observation which applies to all his poetical works holds 
good in regard to his historical productions : while he declaims 
against religion, his finest pages are inspired by Christianity. 
Witness the following portrait of St. Louis : 

"Louis IX.," says he, "appeared to be a prince destined to 
reform Europe, if Europe could have been reformed, to polish 
France and render her triumphant, and to be in all things a 
pattern to mankind. His piety, which was that of an anchoret, 
took from him none of the virtues of a king. A wise economy 
lessened not his liberality. He knew how to combine profound 
policy with strict justice, and perhaps he is the only monarch 
who deserves that encomium. Prudent and firm in council, 
intrepid in battle without being rash, compassionate as though 
he had all his life been unfortunate, it is not given to man to 
carry virtue to a higher pitch. . . . Seized with the plague 
before Tunis, he was, by his own command, laid upon ashes, and 
expired, at the age of fifty-five years, with all the piety of a 
monk and all the fortitude of a truly great man." 

Was it the design of Voltaire, in this portrait, which is so 
elegantly drawn, to depreciate his hero by introducing an 
anchoret ? It can scarcely be denied that such was his inten 
tion ; but how egregious was the mistake ! It is precisely the 
contrast between the religious and the military virtues, between 
Christian humility and royal grandeur, that constitutes the 
pathos and the beauty of this picture. 

Christianity necessarily heightens the effect of historical deli 
neations, by making the characters start, as it were, from the 
canvas, and laying the warm colors of the passions on a cold 
and tranquil ground. To renounce its grave morality would 
be to reject the only new method of eloquence which the 
ancients have left us. We have no doubt that Voltaire, had he 


been religious, would have excelled in history. He wants nothing 
but seriousness; and, notwithstanding his imperfections, he is 
perhaps, with the exception of Bossuet, the best historian that 
France has produced. 



A CHRISTIAN eminently possesses the qualities which one 
of the ancients 1 requires in an historian " a quick perception 
of the things of the world, and a pleasing way of expressing 

As a biographer, Philip de Commines bears an extraordinary 
resemblance to Plutarch ; his simplicity is even more unaffected 
than that of the ancient writer, who frequently has no other 
merit than that of being simple. Plutarch loves to run after 
ideas, and in many of his artle ss turns he is but a very agreeable 

It must indeed be admitted that he is better informed than 
Commines; and yet this old French gentleman, with the gospel 
and his confidence in the hermits, has, notwithstanding his 
ignorance, left memoirs replete with instruction. Among the 
ancients, erudition was indispensably necessary for a writer; 
among us, an illiterate Christian, whose only study has been 
the love of God, has often produced an admirable volume. 
For this reason it is that St. Paul observes, " Though I under 
stand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity, 
I am nothing/ 

Rollin is the F&ielon of history, and, like the latter, has 
embellished Egypt and Greece. The first volumes of the 
Ancient History are fraught with the spirit of antiquity : the 
narrative of this virtuous author is full, simple, and tranquil ; 
and Christianity, inspiring his writings, has imparted to him 
something that deeply affects the mind. His works denote 

1 Lucian, in his Inquiry how History ought tc be written. 


that good man, whose heart, according to the admirable ex 
pression of Scripture, is a continual feast. 1 Rollin has diffused 
over the crimes of men the serenity of a conscience void of 
reproach, and the grace and charity of an apostle of Christ. 
Shall we never witness the return of those times, when the 
education of youth and the hopes of posterity were intrusted 
to such hands ? 



BUT it is in the Discourse on Universal History that the 
influence of the genius of Christianity over the genius of 
history appears eminently conspicuous. Political like Thucy- 
dides, moral like Xenophon, eloquent like Livy, as profound 
and graphic as Tacitus, the Bishop of Meaux has, moreover, 
that solemnity and elevation of style of which no example 
is to be found except in the admirable exordium of the book 
of Maccabees. 

Bossuet is more than an historian; he is a father of the Church, 
an inspired priest, on whose brow oft plays a lambent flame as 
on that of the legislator of the Hebrews. What a survey has 
he taken of the earth ! he is in a thousand places at once ! A 
patriarch under the palm-tree of Tophel, a minister at the court 
of Babylon, a priest at Memphis, a legislator at Sparta, a citizen 
at Athens and at Rome, he changes time and place at pleasure; 
he passes along with the rapidity and the majesty of ages. With 
the rod of the law in hand, and with irresistible authority, he 
drives before him pele-mtle both Jews and Gentiles to the grave; 
he brings up the rear of the funeral procession of all generations, 
and, supported by Isaias and Jeremias, he raises his prophetic 
lamentations amid the ruins and the wrecks of the human race. 

The first part of the Discourse on Universal History is admi- 

1 Ecclesiastic, xxx. 27. 
37 2C 


rable for the narration; the second, for sublimity of s yle and 
lofty metaphysical ideas; the third, for the profundity of its 
in )ral and political views. Have Livy and Sallust any observa 
tions on the ancient Romans superior to these words of the 
Bishop of Meaux ? 

"The groundwork of a Roman, if we may be allowed the 
expression, was the love of his liberty and of his country : one 
of these principles caused him to love the other; because he 
loved his liberty, he also loved his country, as a mother that 
brought him up in sentiments equally generous and free. 

"Under this name of liberty, the Romans as well as the 
Greeks figured to themselves a state in which no individual 
was subject to any power but the law, and in which the law was 
stronger than any individual." 

In hearing people declaim against religion, you would suppose 
that a priest is necessarily a slave, and that before our times no 
one ever spoke worthily on the subject of liberty; but read the 
observations of Bossuet on the Greeks and Romans. Who has 
excelled him in treating of the virtues and vices ? Who has 
formed a juster estimate of human things ? Some of those 
strokes from time to time escape him which have no parallel in 
ancient eloquence and which originate in the very spirit of Chris 
tianity. For example, after speaking of the pyramids of Egypt, 
he adds, "But, in spite of all the efforts of men, their insignifi 
cance is invariably apparent: these pyramids were tombs. Nay, 
more, the kings by whom they were erected had not the satisfac 
tion of being interred in them, and consequently did not enjoy 
their sepulchres." 1 

In this passage we know not which to admire most, the gran 
deur of the idea or the boldness of the expression. The term 
enjoy applied to a sepulchre at once proclaims the magnificence 
of that sepulchre, the vanity of the Pharaohs by whom it was 
erected, the rapidity of our existence, in a word, the incon 
ceivable nothingness of man, who, incapable of possessing any 
real good here below except a tomb, is sometimes deprived even 
of that barren inheritance. 

Tacitus, be it observed, has treated of the Pyramids, 3 but all 

1 Disc, on Univ. Hist., part iii. 2 AnnaL, lib. ii. 


his philosophy suggested to him nothing to be comiAred to the 
beautiful reflection with which religion inspired Bossuet. A 
striking example of the influence of Christianity on the mind 
of a great man ! 

The most finished historical portrait in Tacitus is that of Ti 
berius; but it is eclipsed by the portrait of Cromwell, for in his 
Funeral Orations also Bossuet is an historian. What shall we 
Bay of the exclamation of joy that escapes from Tacitus when 
speaking of the Bructarii who slaughtered one another within 
view-of a Roman camp? "By the favor of the gods," says he, 
"we had the pleasure to behold this conflict without taking any 
part in it. Merely spectators, we witnessed (and an extraordi 
nary sight it was) sixty thousand men cutting each other s throats 
for our amusement. May the nations not in amity with us con 
tinue to cherish in their hearts these mutual animosities I" 1 

Now let us hear Bossuet: "After the deluge first appeared 
those ravagers of provinces denominated conquerors, who, im 
pelled by the thirst of dominion, have exterminated so many in 
nocent people. . . . Since that period, ambition has known no 
bounds in sporting with human life; and to this point are men 
arrived that they slaughter without hating one another. This 
business of mutual destruction is even deemed the height of 
glory and the most excellent of all the arts." 8 

It is difficult to forbear adoring a religion which causes so 
wide a difference between the morality of a Bossuet and that of 
a Tacitus. 

The Roman historian, after relating that Thrasyllus had pre 
dicted the elevation of Tiberius to the empire, adds : " From 
these circumstances, and some others, I cannot tell whether the 
affairs of life be subject to an immutable necessity, or whether 
they depend on chance alone." Then come the opinions of the 
philosophers, which Tacitus gravely repeats, at the same time 
giving the reader clearly to understand that he believes in the 
predictions of astrologers. 

Reason, sound morality, and eloquence, are also, in our opi 
nion, on the side of the Christian prelate. "This long chain 
of particular causes which create and dissolve empires is de- 

1 Tacitus On the Manners of the Germans. ? Disc, on Univ. History. 


pendent on the secret decrees of Divine Providence. From the 
heaven of heavens God guides the reins of every kingdom; all 
hearts are in his hand. Sometimes he curbs the passions; at 
others he relaxes the bridle, and thereby agitates the whole 

human race He knows the extent of human wisdom, 

which always falls short in some respect or other; he enlightens 
it, he extends its views, and then abandons it to its ignorance. 
He blinds, he urges it on, he confounds it; it is involved, it 
becomes embarrassed in its own subtleties, and its very precau 
tions prove a snare in which it is entrapped He it is 

who prepares these effects in the most remote causes, and who 
strikes these mighty blows, the rebound of which is felt so far. 

But let not men deceive themselves; God, when he 

pleases, can restore the bewildered mind; he who exults over 
the infatuation of others may himself be plunged into the thick 
est darkness, and it often requires no other instrument to derange 
his understanding than long prosperity." 

How does the eloquence of antiquity shrink from a comparison 
with this Christian eloquence I 1 

1 It seems almost superfluous to add to this detailed recital of the beauties 
of Bossuet. But there is one passage in his Universal History so remarkable 
for simple and sublime energy that we wish to treat the reader with the perusal 
of it. Speaking of the extent of the Roman empire under Augustus, Bossuet 
says, " Their mountains cannot defend the Rhaeti from his arms; Pannonia 
acknowledges and Germany dreads him; victorious by sea and by laid, be 
shuts the temple of Janus. The whole earth lives in peace under his powtt, and 
Je*u* Christ comes into the world." 




CHRISTIANITY furnishes so many proofs of its excellence, that, 
when you think you have no further subject to treat of, anothei 
suddenly starts up under your pen. We have been speaking of 
philosophers, and, behold, the orators appear and inquire whether 
we have forgotten them ; we have reasoned upon Christianity in 
the arts and sciences, and Christianity calls upon us to exhibit to 
the world the most powerful effects of eloquence ever known. 
To the Catholic religion the moderns owe that oratorical art 
which, had our literature been destitute of it, would have given 
the genius of antiquity a decided superiority over ours. Here is 
one of the proudest triumphs of our religion ; and, notwith 
standing all that may be said in praise of Demosthenes and 
Cicero, Massillon and Bossuet may, without fear, stand a com-, 
parison with them. 

The only species of eloquence known to the ancients were 
judicial and political eloquence. Moral eloquence that is to 
say, the eloquence of every age, of every government, of every 
country appeared not upon earth until the gospel dispensation. 
Cicero defends a client; Demosthenes combats an adversary, or 
endeavors to rekindle the love of country in a degenerate people; 
both only know how to rouse the passions, and they found all 
their hopes of success on the agitation which they excite in the 
heart. The eloquence of the pulpit has sought its hopes in a 
higher region. By opposing the movements of the soul, she 
hopes to persuade it; by appeasing all the passions, she makes 
them listen to her voice. God and charity, such is her text, ever 

the same, ever inexhaustible. She needs neither the cabals of a 
37* 437 


party, nor popular commotions, nor important events, in order to 
shine; in the most profound peace, over the bier of the obscurest 
citizen, she exerts her most sublime influences; she knows how 
to excite interest in behalf of a virtue that is unknown; she 
draws tears from your eyes for a person whose name you nevei 
heard. Incapable of fear and of injustice, she gives lessons to 
kings, but without insulting them; she comforts the indigent, 
but without flattering their vices. She is no stranger to politics 
or to any other terrestrial things; but these, though the primary 
springs of ancient eloquence, are with her but secondary reasons; 
she beholds them from the elevated region where she reigns, as 
an eagle from the summit of the mountain perceives the lowly 
objects in the plain. 

What particularly distinguishes Christian eloquence from the 
eloquence of the Greeks and Romans is, in the words of La 
Bruyere, that evangelical sadness which is the soul of it, that 
majestic melancholy on which it feeds. You read once, perhaps 
twice, the orations of Cicero against Verres and Catiline; the 
oration for the crown and the philippics of Demosthenes; but 
you meditate all your life on the Funeral Orations of Bossuet, 
and turn over night and day the sermons of Bourdaloue and 
Massillon. The discourses of the Christian orators are so many 
books, while those of antiquity are but orations. What wonder 
ful taste is displayed by the sacred teachers in their reflections on 
the vanities of the world ! "Your whole life," say they, "is but 
the intoxication of a day, and you spend that day in the pursuit 
of the most empty illusions. Granting that you attain the sum 
mit of all your wishes, that you become a king, an emperor, the 
master of the world, it is but for a moment, and then death will 
sweep away all these vanities together with your nothingness." 

This kind of meditation, so grave, so solemn, and tending so 
naturally to the sublime, was wholly unknown to the orators of 
antiquity. The heathens exhausted themselves in thepursuit of 
the shadows of life; 1 they knew not that real existence begins 
not until death. The Christian religion has alone founded that 
great school of the grave where the apostle of the gospel imbibes 
instruction; she no longer allows him, like the demi-sages of 



Greece, to squander the immortal intellect of man on things of a 

In short, religion in all ages and in all countries has been the 
source of eloquence. If Demosthenes and Cicero were great 
orators, the reason is because they were above all religious. 1 
The members of the Convention, on the contrary, displayed only 
mutilated talents, and scraps, as it were, of eloquence, because 
they attacked the faith of their forefathers, and thus cut them- 
solves off from all the inspirations of the heart." 



THE eloquence of the Fathers of the Church has in it some 
thing that overawes, something energetic, something royal, as it 
were, and whose authority at once confounds and subdues. You 
are convinced that their mission comes from on high, and that 
they teach by the express command of the Almighty. In the 
midst of these inspirations, however, their genius retains its 
majesty and serenity. 

The names of the gods are incessantly in their mouths. See the apostrophe 
of the former to the gods plundered by Verres, and the invocation of the latter 
to the manes of the heroes of Marathon. 

* Let it not be said that the French had not time to acquire practice in the 
new career upon which they had entered. Eloquence is a fruit of revolutions, in 
which it grows spontaneously and without culture; the savage and the negro 
have sometimes spoken like Demosthenes. There was, besides, no want of 
models, since they possessed the master-pieces of the ancient forum and those 
also of that facred forum in which the Christian orator explains the eternal 
law. When Montlosier, descending from the mountains of Auvergne, where he 
had, doubtless, paid but little attention to the study of rhetoric, exclaimed, 
when speaking of the clergy in the Constituent Assembly, Drive them from 
their palaces, and they will seek refuge in the hut of the indigent whom they 
have fed; rob them of their golden crosses, and they will take up wooden ones 
in their stead ; it was a cross of wood that saved the world !" this- beautiful 
apostrophe was not inspired by anarchy, but by religion. If, finally, Vergniaud 
attained the heights of eloquence, in his speech for Louis XVI., it was because 
his subject raised him into the region of religious ideas the pyramids <atb, 
silence, and the tomb. 


St. Ambrose is the Fenelon of the Latin Fathers. He in 
flowery, smooth, and rich; and, with the exception of a few de 
fects, which belong to the age in which he lived, his works are 
equally entertaining and instructive. To be convinced of this 
the reader need only turn to the Treatise on Virginity and the 
Praise of the Patriarchs. 

At the present day, when you make mention of a saint, people 
figure to themselves some rude fanatical monk, addicted, from 
weakness of intellect or of character, to a ridiculous superstition. 
Augustin, however, exhibits a very different picture. A young 
man of an ardent temperament and superior genius, he gives 
himself up to the gratification of his passions; he has soon com 
pleted the circle of pleasure, and he is astonished that the joys of 
the earth should be incapable of filling the void of his heart. 
His restless soul turns toward heaven; something whispers that 
there dwells that sovereign beauty to which he aspires. God 
himself speaks to him; and this man of the world, whom the 
world was unable to satisfy, at length finds repose and the fulfil 
ment of his desires in the bosom of religion. 

Montaigne and Rousseau have left us their confessions. The 
former has imposed upon the credulity of the reader; the latter 
has revealed his shameful depravity, at the same time holding 
himself forth, even to the divine judgment, as a model of virtue. 
In the confessions of St. Augustin we are made acquainted with 
man as he is. He confesses his sins not to earth, but to heaven : 
he conceals nothing from Him who is omniscient. A Christian 
on his knees in the tribunal of penance, he deplores his infirmi 
ties, and discloses them that the physician of souls may apply a 
remedy to the wound. He was not afraid of tiring, by prolixity, 
Him of whom he wrote those sublime words : He is patient be 
cause he is eternal. And what a magnificent portrait has he 
drawn of the God to whom he confesses his errors ! 

"Thou art infinitely great/ says he, " infinitely good, merciful, 
just; thy beauty is incomparable, thy might irresistible, thy 
power unbounded. Ever in action, ever at rest, thou upholdest, 
thou fiHest, thou preservest, the universe; thou lovest without 
passion, thou art jealous without pain; thou changest thine ope 
rations, but never thy designs. But what am I saying, my 
God and what can any one say unto thee !" 


The same individual who drew this brilliant image of t le true 
God will now speak to us with the most amiable simplicity of his 
youthful errors: 

"I finally set out for Carthage. I was no sooner arrived there 
than I found myself besieged by a crowd of culpable attractions, 
that pressed upon me from every side. ... A quiet life appeared 
to me intolerable, and I followed a path which was covered with 
snares and precipices. My happiness was then to be loved as 
well as to love, because man desires to find life in that which he 
loves. ... At length I fell into the net in which I had wished to 
be caught : I was loved, and I possessed what 1 loved. But, 
my God ! thou didst then make me sensible of thy goodness and 
mercy, in filling my soul with bitterness: for, instead of the de 
lights I had anticipated, I experienced only jealousy, suspicion, 
fear, anger, quarrelling, and excitement." 

The simple, melancholy, and impassioned tone of this n arrative, 
that return to God and the peace of heaven at a moment when 
the saint seems most agitated by the illusions of the world and 
the recollection of his past follies, all this mixture of regret and 
repentance is replete with charms. We are acquainted with no 
expression of feeling more delicate than the following: " My 
happiness was to be loved as well as to love, for man wishes to 
find life in the object of his love." It was St. Augustin also that 

gaid: "A contemplative soul finds a solitude in herself." The 

City of God, the Epistles, and some of the Treatises of the same 
Father, abound with thoughts of this kind. 

St. Jerome is particularly distinguished for a vigorous imagi 
nation, which his immense learning was incapable of extinguish 
ing. The collection of his letters is one of the most curious 
monuments of patristic literature. As in the case of St. Augustin, 
the pleasures of the world proved the rock upon which he struck. 
He loves to dwell on the nature and delights of solitude. 
From the recess of his cell at Bethlehem he beheld the fall of the 
Roman empire. What a vast subject of reflection for a holy 
anchoret ! Accordingly, death and the vanity of human life are 
ever present to his view. 

"We are dying, we are changing every hour," says, he, in a 
letter to one of his friends, "and yet we live as if we were im 
mortal. The very time which it takes to pen these lines must 


be retrenched from my days. We often write to one another, uy 
dear Heliodorus; our letters traverse the seas, and as the ship 
scuds along so life flies : a moment of it passes with every wave." 1 

As Ambrose is the Fenelon of the Fathers, so Tertullian is the 
Bossuet. Part of his vindication of religion might, even at the 
present day, be of service to the same cause. How wonderful 
that Christianity should now be obliged to defend herself before 
her own children as she formerly defended herself before her 
executioners, and that the Apology to the GENTILES should have 
become the Apology to the CHRISTIANS ! 

The most remarkable feature of this work is the intellectual 
development which it displays. You are ushered into a new 
order of ideas; you feel that what you hear is not the language 
of early antiquity or the scarcely-articulate accents of man. 
Tertullian speaks like a modern; the subjects of his eloquence 
are derived from the circle of eternal truths, and not from the 
reasons of passion and circumstance employed in the Roman tri 
bune or in the public place at Athens. This progress of the 
genius of philosophy is evidently the effect of our holy religion 
Had not the false deities been overthrown and the true worship 
of God been established, man would have continued in endless 
infancy; for, persevering in error in regard to the first principle, 
all his other notions would have been more or less tinctured with 
the fundamental vice. 

The other tracts of Tertullian, particularly those on Patienct, 
the Shows, the Martyrs, the Ornaments of Women, and the 
Resurrection of the Body, contain numberless beautiful passages. 
"/ doubt," says the orator, reproaching the Christian females 
with their luxury, " I doubt whether hands accustomed to brace 
lets will be able to endure the weight of chains; whether feet 
adorned with fillets will become habituated to galling fetters. I 
much question whether a head covered with a network of pearls 
and diamonds would not yield to the sword." These words, 
addressed to the women who were daily conducted to the scaffold, 
glow with courage and with faith. 

We regret that we cannot here quote the whole of the beautiful 
epistle to the martyrs, which has acquired additional interest 

1 ffieron. Epixt. 


with us since the persecution of Robespierre. " Illustrious con 
fessors of Jesus Christ," exclaims Tertullian, "a Christian finds 
in prison the same joys as the prophets tasted in the desert. 
Call it not a dungeon, but a solitude. When the soul is in hea 
ven, the body feels not the weight of fetters ; it carries the whole 
man along with it." This concluding sentiment is sublime. 

From the priest of Carthage Bossuet borrowed that thrilling 
passage which has been so much admired in his funeral discourse 
on the Duchess of Orleans. "Our flesh soon changes its nature j 
our body takes another name : even that of corpse, says Tertullian, 
as it still leaves some trace of human form, will not long be 
applicable to it. It becomes I know not what, something for 
which no language has a name : so true is it that every thing in 
him dies, even those doleful words which convey an idea of his 
earthly remains/ 

Tertullian possessed extensive erudition, though he accuses 
himself of ignorance ; and in his works we find particulars respect 
ing the private life of the Romans which we would elsewhere 
seek in vain. A barbarous and African Latinity disfigures the 
works of this great orator. He often falls into declamation, and 
his taste is not always correct. " Tertullian s is an iron style/ 1 
says Balzac, "but it must be allowed that with this metal he has 
forged excellent weapons." 

According to Lactantius, surnamed the Christian Cicero, 
Cyprian was tbcjirst eloquent Father of the Latin Church. But 
Cyprian almost everywhere imitates Tertullian, diminishing alike 
the beauties and the defects of his model. Such is the judgment 
of La Harpe, whose authority should be always quoted in matters 
of criticism. 

Among the Fathers of the Greek Church, two only are highly 
eloquent, SS. Chrysostom and Basil. The homilies of the former 
on Death, and the Disgrace of Eutropius, are real master-pieces. 1 
The diction of St. Chrysostom is pure but labored, and his style 
is rather forced, after the manner of Isocrates. Before the young 
orator embraced Christianity, 8 Libanius had selected him for his 
successor in the chair of rhetoric. 

1 See note 8B. 

2 That is, before he had received the sacrament of baptism. Born of Chris 
tian parents, he studied rhetoric and philosophy, after which he embraced the 


With greater simplicity, St. Basil possesses less elevation than 
St. Chrysostom. He closely adheres to the mystical tone and 
the paraphrase of the Scripture. 1 St. Gregory Nazianzen, 2 sur- 
named the Theologian, has left, besides his prose works, several 
poetical pieces on the mysteries of Christianity. 

"He always resided at his solitary retreat of Arianzum in his 
native country," says the Abbe Fleury. A garden, a fountain, 
and trees which afforded him shade, constituted his whole 

delight. He fasted, he prayed with abundance of tears 

These sacred poems were the occupations of St. Gregory in his 
last retirement. He there relates the history of his life and 

sufferings He prays, he teaches, he explains the 

mysteries, and gives rules of moral conduct He designed 

to furnish those who are fond of poetry and music with useful 
subjects of amusement, and not to yield to the pagans the advan 
tage of deeming themselves alone capable of succeeding in the 
belles-lettres. 3 

Finally, St. Bernard, who before the appearance of Bossuet 
was called the last of the fathers, combined with extensive 
talents extensive learning. He was particularly successful in 
the delineation of manners, and was endowed with something 
of the genius of Theophrastus and La Bruyere. 

" The proud man," says he, " is loud when he talks and sullen 
in silence; he is dissolute in prosperity, furious in adversity; 
dishonest within, honest without ; he is rude in his behaviour, 
morose in his replies, always strong in attack, always feeble in 
defence ; he yields with an ill grace, he importunes to gain his 
point ; he does not what he can and what he ought to do, but he 
is ready to do what he ought not and what he cannot perform/ 4 

legal profession j but, having resolved to devote himself entirely to the service 
of God, he was instructed, baptized, and ordained lector by St. Meletius. T. 

1 He has written a celebrated Letter on Solitude j it is the first of his epistles, 
and furnished the groundwork of his Rule. 

2 In the different French editions of the Genie du Christianiome, a singular 
historical error occurs in a note appended to this passage, which states that 
St. Gregory the Theologian had a son of the same name and sanctity with him 
self. But it should be observed that St. Gregory the Theologian, of whom our 
author speaks in the text, was the son, and not the father, of St. Gregory, Bishop 
of Nazianzum. T. 

3 Fleury s Keel. Hist., vol. iv. book xix. c. 9. 4 De Mor., lib. xxxiv. c. 16. 

M \SSILLON. 445 

We must not forget that phenomenon of the thirteenth 
century, the book <-n the Following of Christ. How did a 
monk, shut up in his convent, acquire that propriety of expres 
sion, that exquisite knowledge of man, in an age when the 
passions were rude and taste still more unpolished ? Who 
revealed to him in his solitude those mysteries of the heart and 
of eloquence ? One master, and one alone JESUS CHRIST. 



IP we now leap over several centuries, we shall come to 
orators whose names alone throw a certain class of people into 
great embarrassment; for full w^l they know that all their 
sophistry avails nothing when opposed to Bossuet, Fe"ne"lon, 
Massillon, Bourdaloue, Fleshier, Mascaron. and Poulle. 

It is painful to be obliged to pass with such rapidity over such 
stores of wealth, and to be unable to pause at each of these great 
orators. But how shall we select from among all these treasures, 
or how point out to the reader excellences which he has not 
observed? Would we not swell these pages too much by tilling 
them with these illustrious proofs of the beauty of Christianity ? 
We shall not, therefore, make use of all our weapons ; we will 
not abuse our advantages, lest, by pressing the evidence too 
closely, we should urge the enemies of Christianity to an obsti 
nate rejection of its truths, the last refuge of the spirit of 
sophistry when driven to extremities. 

We shall not adduce, in support of our arguments, F6nlon, 
so sweet and so full of grace in Christian meditations j nor the 
great Bourdaloue, a tower of strength and victory to the doc 
trines of the gospel ; we shall not avail ourselves of the learned 
compositions of Fleshier, nor of the brilliant imaginations of 
Poulle, the last of the Christian orators. religion, how great 
have been thy triumphs ! Who could doubt thy beauty when 
FeVlon and Bossuet occupied thy episcopal chairs ? when Bour- 


daloue, in solemn accents, instructed a monarch then blest with 
prosperity, but who, in his misfortunes, was favored by a merciful 
Heaven with the soothing counsels of Massillon ? 

It must not, however, be supposed that the Bishop of Cler- 
inont possesses only the sensibility of genius : he has also a 
masculine and nervous language at his command. In our opi 
nion, his Petit Careme has been too exclusively extolled. The 
author, indeed, there displays an intimate knowledge of the 
human heart, just views respecting the vices of courts. He 
there inculcates moral truths, written with elegance and yet 
with simplicity; but there is certainly a higher eloquence, a 
bolder style, more pathetic movements, and more profound ideas, 
in some of his other sermons, such as those on Death, on Final 
Impenitence, on the Small Number of the Elect, on the Death 
of the Sinner, on the Necessity of a Future State, and on the 
Passion of Christ. Read, for example, this description of the 
dying sinner : 

" At length, amid all thes* painful struggles, his eyes become 
fixed, his features altered, his face distorted, and his livid lips 
involuntarily open a shivering seizes his whole frame, and by 
this last effort his soul is reluctantly disengaged from this 
body of clay, and